September 2017

HCWH Europe Annual report 2016 now available online


The Health Care Without Harm Europe 2016 Annual report is now available. Last year was a year of growth and development for the organisation. 

Learn more about our achievements throughout 2016 as well as our members' work, including the CleanMed Europe conference in Copenhagen.
Read the report

Quick Links:
Safer Chemicals
Climate & Energy
Sustainable Food
Member Update
Other News
Safer Chemicals

ENVI committee objects to the European Commission's flawed EDC criteria - next steps

Yesterady (28th September 2017), the Environment Committee of the European Parliament (ENVI committee) voted to object to the European Commission’s proposed criteria to identify endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs)

  • 36 for objection
  • 26 against objection
  • 0 abstentions

HCWH Europe is critical of the EDC criteria as proposed by the European Commission and therefore welcomes this result. HCWH Europe has raised concerns with relevant decision makers, such as the competent EU Health Ministers and MEPs about the potentially damaging consequences of the EDC criteria, especially for the Medical Devices Regulation.

“The ENVI committee’s rejection of these criteria today is an important first step, HCWH Europe now calls on MEPs to follow suit and reject the European Commission’s flawed EDC criteria for the sake of human and environmental health.”

- Philippe Vandendaele, Chemicals Policy Advisor - HCWH Europe

The current proposal remains a source of concern, in particular the high burden of proof required to identify EDCs - for these criteria to be effectively rejected, the European Parliament need to vote down the proposed criteria when meeting in plenary next week on the 3rd of October.

If you want to call on your MEPs to block the European Commission’s weak proposal on endocrine disruptors and avoid jeopardising our health - see the petition below:

Call on MEPs to protect human and environmental health from EDCs

A majority of EU member countries have accepted a European Commission legislative proposal on EDCs that would leave us vulnerable to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) - especially children and pregnant women, the most susceptible to these toxic substances.


Learn more in HCWH Europe's EDCs resources section

Experts are slamming the proposal, which sets criteria for which chemicals get classified as EDCs. The burden of proof of harm is so high that most of these harmful chemicals will go unregulated - this dangerous text is now in danger of becoming law throughout the EU.

But it’s not over yet - the European Commission’s proposal must now be approved by the European Parliament on the 3rd of October – there is still time for our voice to be heard. Call on MEPs to block the European Commission’s weak proposal on endocrine disruptors and avoid jeopardising our health!

HCWH Europe is a member of EDC-Free Europe - a coalition of public interest groups representing more than 70 environmental, health, women’s and consumer groups across Europe who share a concern about endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and their impact on our health and wildlife.

The campaign is also supported by over 11,000 individuals across 78 countries, communicating through seven major European languages. 

Sign the EDC-Free petition

Climate & Energy

Healthcare call to action on climate change

In the lead up to the November 2017 UN Climate Negotiations in Bonn (Germany), Health Care Without Harm is working with hospitals and health systems from around the world to sign a Health Care Call to Action on Climate Change.

Together with our healthcare partners we aim to forge a powerful, collective voice advocating for climate-smart health care, greater health system resiliency, and leadership from the health sector in protecting public and planetary health from climate change.

With climate change already exacerbating a wide range of health problems the world over, the health sector must play a leading role in addressing climate change, which The Lancet has called the greatest global health threat of the 21st Century.

"Healthcare institutions in every country can become leaders in contributing to both health and climate solutions by reducing their emissions and becoming more resilient"

- Josh Karliner, International Director of Program and Strategy at Health Care Without Harm.

The Health Care Call to Action is a message from hospitals and health systems around the world to colleagues and sister institutions around the world. It calls on health care to address its own climate impacts, create climate-smart development strategies, and to prepare for expected serious climate-change induced extreme weather impacts.

By taking these actions, healthcare can help foster a transition to a low-carbon economy that will generate substantial health benefits and health equity gains.

Already 16 hospitals and health systems from 11 countries have signed the Health Care Call to Action on Climate Change. HCWH is calling on hospitals and health systems from around the world to endorse the call before the Bonn meeting in November.

Join your colleagues from around the globe:
Endorse the Healthcare call to action on climate change

It's hurricane season somewhere far away

Irma is being named one of the Caribbean’s most damaging hurricane on record, having ravaged through 10 Caribbean countries, many of which are overseas European territories controlled by France, The Netherlands, and The United Kingdom.

The level of devastation is being blamed on two key factors, firstly, nations’ low resilience and weak infrastructure - low economic development of the region has rendered many islands extremely vulnerable and unable to cope with natural hazards. Irma has highlighted the link between a country’s economy and its resilience to disasters - despite the destruction sustained, countries with substantially higher GDPs such as Barbados and Cape Verde have demonstrated significantly higher resilience.

The second factor, naturally, is climate change. Astonishingly, despite recent major weather events, climate sceptics continue to exist, clinging to their “absence of science” justification in the face of an abundance of climate science. It almost feels as if Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria (making her way towards the Caribbean region at the time of writing), have stormed by to remind us that warming Atlantic waters is no theory. Warmer oceans create the perfect condition for the growth and strength of a hurricane. That is a fact.


Political response

European leaders were quickly criticised for slow responses to their Caribbean territories; leaders of France, The Netherlands, and The U.K. have since travelled to their respective islands to provide support. The French Island of Saint Martin suffered 14 fatalities and more than 200 people went missing. French President Macron arrived on the island with an airlift full of aid such as water, food, medication, and emergency equipment. Doctors and experts also attended in order to assess the damage and to contribute to the repair plans. French troops and police officers were also deployed to help stop lootings and to protect residents from the surge of crime. Macron acknowledged that Saint Martin’s weak infrastructure did not help the devastation suffered, and has vowed to rebuild the island to be a model for the region.


Health threats

Irma showed no mercy leaving chaos and destruction across all of its island victims. As citizens of British Virgin Islands were evacuated to Puerto Rico, rats replaced people on the streets, sewers overflowed, and stagnant water raised creating a serious health hazards, including concern over the possible rise of mosquito-borne diseases. People are crammed into over-crowded and confined spaces, raising the risks of the spread of communicable diseases...

Read in full


Policy overview: Food pathways to AMR - A call for international action

Due to its rising prevalence, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global threat to sustainable development. Whilst there are many diverse factors influencing the development and spread of AMR, the use of antibiotics in food production is one that has long been unrecognised. Several food ingredients contribute to AMR through production, processing, and even preparation in kitchens, including hospital kitchens.

Hospitals and health systems are on the front line when it comes to treating infections, they therefore play an important role in leading global action to protect public health, the environment, and the economy, through the food they choose to procure and serve.

Whilst some actions have already taken place at international and regional levels to respond to this growing challenge, this publication provides a closer look at legislation and campaigns in Europe and the U.S. that are reforming the use and monitoring of antimicrobials within the food supply chain.

This overview also includes HCWH’s recommendations on identifying what is still needed to address this global threat, and how hospitals and healthcare systems can contribute to a safer, healthier, and more sustainable food supply chain.

Access the full document here.

For more information about this document, please contact lead author, HCWH Europe’s Pharmaceuticals Policy Officer, Adela Maghear on adela.maghear [at]

Read more

Sustainable Food
How healthcare can respond to the challenge of food waste

Health Care Without Harm Europe has released a new infographic explaining how food waste is harming the environment and as a consequence human health.

How healthcare can respond to the challenge of food waste illustrates the cost of food waste both globally and in the EU; as well as highlighting some policy actions to reduce food waste, the infographic also introduces some initial basic steps that the healthcare sector can take to help prevent and reduce food waste in its hospitals and healthcare facilities.
Greenhouse gas emissions from food waste contribute to reducing air quality and increasing climate change, which harms the very population the healthcare sector is trying to heal. 
The healthcare sector can be a leader in reducing food waste to further improve patient’s health and well-being.
For further reading, visit HCWH Europe’s resource section for Sustainable & Healthy Food for all the latest publications, webinar recordings, workshop reports, and position papers.
Read the full infographic

Member Update

The Green Kitchen Standard

HCWH Europe member Soil Association has joined forces with Carbon Trust to create the Green Kitchen Standard, a new certification which recognises caterers in hospital settings that are taking positive steps to sustainably manage energy, water and waste. The standard was launched in May with our pioneering pilot award holders. Following the successful pilot, the Standard is now open to applications. As a result of the pilot, three hospitals now have the Green Kitchen Standard: Carillion at Queen Alexandra in Portsmouth, Sheffield Teaching Hospital, and Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

The Green Kitchen Standard is a flexible questionnaire-based standard, where you can showcase existing good practice in the areas of energy, water, and waste management, or support your journey of continuous improvement in environmental management.
There are eight sections of the standard:
  1. Management and policies
  2. Monitoring
  3. Communication
  4. Targets
  5. Staff training
  6. Operations
  7. Procurement
  8. Site visit
Some mandatory standards are required, but the rest of the standard requires a 60% pass, so your catering facility has the ability to choose it’s area of strength.
Applying for the Green Kitchen Standard has helped us reinforce the importance of sustainability within our catering operation, providing a focus and structure to energy management, recycling and food waste prevention.”
- Emma Wilson, Head of Catering (Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust)
If you are interested in gaining the Green Kitchen Standard, click below to learn more or contact Liz Harding-Wyatt the Green Kitchen Standard Development Manager:
The Soil Association will be hosting a Green Kitchen Webinar on the 8th November – registration details will soon be available on their website.
Learn more

Other News

HCWH Europe at WHO RC67

Last week, the 67th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe (RC67) took place in Budapest, Hungary. HCWH Europe has collaborated with WHO on both a global and regional level for many years, and was invited to participate in the session to share its knowledge and experience working with the European healthcare sector to reduce its environmental footprint.

The WHO Regional Committee for Europe is WHO’s decision-making body in the European Region; health ministers and high-level representatives from the 53 WHO European Region Member States as well as partner organisations and civil society took part in RC67 from 11th –14th September 2017.

At the event, HCWH Europe worked independently and with other NGOs in attendance on a number of statements reflecting HCWH Europe’s position about key technical issues, such as climate change, environmental sustainability of health systems, and education of health professionals.

On Tuesday 12th September, HCWH Europe made a statement regarding the Roadmap to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, asserting its support of the WHO Roadmap addressing climate change as a public health issue. HCWH Europe also affirmed its commitment to work with all relevant stakeholders, (including national ministries, regions, and local authorities) to build low-carbon and resilient hospitals and health systems across Europe. Read the full statement here.

Later that day, HCWH Europe released a joint statement with Wonca (World Family Doctors) Europe, COTEC (The Council of Occupational Therapists for European Countries), Medicus Mundi, and WFOT (the World Federation of Occupational Therapists) on the agenda item concerning environment and health in the context of Health 2020 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This statement concerned planetary health and primary healthcare, and highlighted the Ostrava Declaration’s call for “Building environmental sustainability of health systems, and reducing their environmental impacts”. HCWH Europe highlighted that health systems can achieve a triple win in this regard: protecting the health of staff and patients; protecting the environment, and saving financial resources. Read the full statement here.

Image credit: WHO/Franz Henriksen

On September 13th, HCWH Europe delivered another statement, this time regarding the sustainable health workforce in the WHO European region. The statement was submitted in association with WFME (the World Federation for Medical Education) IFMSA (the International Federation of Medical Student’s Associations), and IPSF the International Pharmaceutical Student’s Federation) and called for recognition of the importance of primary health care in educating and caring for the population, as well as the duty of healthcare professionals to take action to minimise environmental risk factors on health and the healthcare sector itself. This statement also affirmed the importance of community based learning, by addressing these topics in healthcare curricula and throughout continuous professional development, as well as increasing the resilience of hospitals and health systems to the effects of climate change. Read the full statement here.

HCWH Europe looks forward to continued collaboration with WHO and other stakeholders to advance the voice of healthcare professionals to the European policy debate about key environmental issues and promote healthcare for an ecologically sustainable, equitable, and healthy world.

Read more

International interdisciplinary health facility workshop

From crisis to success: The health facility planning and realisation process must be improved!

A small group of health facility specialists from medicine, operations, planning, and real estate management will meet once more in Vienna for the 4th International interdisciplinary health facility workshop 9th-10th November 2017.
Participants are encouraged to bring their own project challenges to the seminar where these issues will be discussed in strict confidentiality and participants will benefit from a variety of perspectives during discussions with the specialists.

The interdisciplinary health facility workshop aims to achieve an intense personal exchange, therefore the number of participants is limited to approximately 15.

Learn more
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