May 2017

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Safer Chemicals

HCWH Europe welcomes the EU triggering the Minamata Convention


HCWH Europe warmly welcomes the European Union’s formal submission of the legal instruments required to implement the Minamata Convention. The convention was ratified in 2013, but it was on the 18th of May 2017 at the New York United Nations Headquarters, that the requisite number of 50 signatories, (from the 128 party to the Convention), was reached - thus bringing this global treaty into force. The Convention's main objective is to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds. 

For many years HCWH Europe has advocated the adoption and implementation of legally binding instruments that would reduce mercury pollution globally - to protect the environment and human health. HCWH Europe has worked on the phase out of mercury-based thermometers (achieved in the EU in 2007), mercury-based blood pressure devices (achieved in 2012 in the EU), and was closely involved in the discussions culminating in the Minamata Convention’s global ratification, agreed in 2013.

HCWH Europe acknowledges the leadership shown by the EU in the original negotiations leading to ratification, and particularly commends the European Parliament for transforming the original European Commission proposal for a Mercury Regulation into a more ambitious instrument to comply with the Convention’s requirements.

HCWH Europe is particularly pleased with the EU measures addressing the partial phase-out of dental amalgam: prohibiting the use amalgam for vulnerable populations i.e. pregnant or breastfeeding women and children under 15 years old.

"This is a first step towards a total ban and we, at HCWH Europe, will continue to push for a full phase out of dental amalgam in the EU.  We will do what it takes to assist EU member states in the elaboration of their national plan (to be submitted to the European Commission by 2020) on a full phase-out of dental amalgam."

- Philippe Vandendaele, Chemicals Policy Advisor - HCWH Europe

The Mercury Regulation sets rules that put the EU firmly on track to become the first mercury­free economy. The provisions imposing responsibility on dental practitioners for waste disposal in an environmentally sound manner, is a timely reminder of the need for an end-of-life approach...

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Climate & Energy

Reducing healthcare's climate footprint | New HCWH Europe report


Climate change is linked to an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. This means more heat waves, changing rainfall patterns, rising sea levels, wildfires, drought, and intense cold spells. The exacerbation of these events can have a direct or indirect effect on human health by disrupting ecosystems, agriculture, food and water quality and availability, air quality, and damaging infrastructure. In turn, the disturbance of these systems can directly affect human health by causing heat-related illnesses, infectious diseases, cardiovascular diseases, injuries, and respiratory diseases. Climate change is already contributing to the global burden of disease and premature deaths.

Climate change induced events place great burden on health systems to cope with the consequences of such events. These range from a hospital’s ability to support a flood of patients after an extreme weather event, to the potential damage to infrastructure, or the ability to control infectious diseases. The burden of responsibility that lies with health systems in the face of climate change is enormous. For this reason, strengthening public health services must be a central component of all nations’ climate change adaptation measures and policies.

Healthcare infrastructures have a large climate footprint. The approximately 15,000 hospitals across the European Union have a high demand for heating and electricity and require a large amount of energy for transport, lighting, ventilation, air conditioning, and electric and electronic equipment. Health systems are also major consumers of medical goods and equipment, which are often produced in carbon-intensive processes in the developing world under unsafe, toxic, and unregulated conditions.

Health Care Without Harm Europe's latest report presents a number of case studies of European healthcare systems implementing strategies to reduce healthcare's climate footprint, as well as an overview of the EU Climate and Energy policy landscape.

It is within the role of health systems as health stewards to make responsible decisions that guarantee both human and environmental health throughout their entire supply chain. Sustainable alternatives to health sector-related products and activities - that contribute to the mitigation of climate change, save money, and ultimately protect human health - already exist. It is merely a matter of structural transition and policy implementation.

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New World Bank Report Calls for Health Sector Leadership on Climate

Released at world health assembly, “Climate-Smart Health Care” outlines low-carbon and resilience strategies for the health sector

Geneva -- The World Bank Group’s health and climate directors released a report on the 30th of May establishing a new framework for health systems in every country to become leaders in addressing climate change. The report is a joint production with Health Care Without Harm.

In its title, the report coins the term Climate-Smart Health Care, an approach that sets forth both low-carbon and resilience strategies. These strategies are designed for the development community, ministries of health, hospitals and health systems to deploy while addressing the health impacts of climate change.

James Close, Director of the World Bank’s Climate Change Group and Olusoji Adeyi Director of Health, Nutrition, and Population at the Bank jointly write: "The health sector has a substantial role to play in both mitigating climate change through the adoption of low-carbon strategies, while also building resilience to climate impact."

While few countries have undertaken healthcare carbon footprint measurements, and further study is necessary to more comprehensively quantify healthcare’s contribution to climate change, the report makes a rough, first-ever estimate of health care’s global emissions. It conservatively finds that health care generates 5% of world-wide greenhouse gas emissions, amounting to 2.6 billion metric tons of CO2e in 2011...

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Webinar | Pharmaceutical pollution - the need for
sustainable procurement

8th June 2017, 14:00 CEST

Register here


According to a recent German Environment Agency report, approximately 4,000 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) are being used in pharmaceuticals (i.e. medicinal drugs), be they prescription, over the counter, or for veterinary use.

Residues of these APIs can enter the environment during the production, consumption, and disposal of pharmaceuticals. Scientists say that the APIs of everyday medicines are entering waterways and reaching our drinking water supplies. The main pathways to our drinking water are pharmaceutical manufacturing waste, animal excretion, the runoff from animal feeding procedures, and leaching from municipal landfills. 

The healthcare sector can contribute to pharmaceutical pollution through poor waste management practices. Wastewater treatment plants are unable to completely destroy or remove pharmaceuticals, therefore sustainable procurement is an important factor in tackling pharmaceutical pollution. 

The joint UN Procurement project is an example of procurers working with supply companies to shift towards procuring more sustainable products. Public procurers have an important role in setting environmental criteria for tendering, thus driving a change in markets through purchasing socially responsible and environmentally sound pharmaceuticals. 

In this webinar, you will learn from recent research on the presence of pharmaceuticals in water and will be presented with the key issues of integrating sustainable procurement into the health sector.


Professor Alistair Boxall, Professor in Environmental Science - University of York Environment Department

Alistair’s research focuses on understanding the emerging and future ecological and health risks posed by chemical contaminants in the natural environment. Alistair is a past member of the Defra Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee and the Veterinary Products Committee.

He is co-ordinator of the €3.5m CAPACITIE project on pollution monitoring in cities, academic co-ordinator of the €10.3m iPiE project on intelligence-led assessment of pharmaceuticals in the environment, and leads the York City Environment Observatory initiative. He regularly advises national and international organisations on issues relating to chemical impacts on the environment and has published extensively on the topic of chemical risks in the environment.

Ms. Lorea Coronado-Garcia, Greening Health Systems Specialist - UNDP HIV, Health and Development Team, Istanbul Regional Hub 

Lorea Coronado-Garcia provides technical support for the Global Secretariat of the United Nations Interagency Task Team on Sustainable Procurement in the Health Sector (SPHS). Lorea has been working with UNDP since 2015 and the SPHS initiative since early 2016.

She has assisted UNDP, as host of the SPHS initiative, to develop sustainable procurement tools, guidelines and collaborations across the private and public sector and with experts from academic, scientific and civil society communities.

Previously, Lorea has worked in the private sector in a green investment bank, energy market exchange, and alternative energy market analysis firm. Lorea holds a master’s degree in Forest and Nature Management from the University of Copenhagen, and a BSE and BS from the University of Michigan in Material Science & Engineering and Organizational Studies.

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How could it have ever come to this?


Watch: The invisible enemy – deadly superbugs

Multi-drug resistant bacteria are causing infections that we can no longer effectively treat with antibiotics - how could it have ever come to this? 

That’s the question being asked in a recent documentary The invisible enemy – deadly superbugs from Das Erste: Germany’s principal publicly owned television channel. 

Opening with the story of Ulrich Dannheim, this documentary helps illustrate the human impact of antibiotic resistant bacterial infections. Mr Dannheim only suffered a minor foot injury, but as the wound became infected with resistant bacteria - a simple wound became untreatable and lead to leg amputation.

“We can transplant organs and stem cells, we can cure leukaemia” remarks Dr Christoph Lubbert of Leipzig University Hospital, “it’s amazing that we can do all these things, yet lose a patient due to a ‘dumb’ infection”.

Following the production chain of pharmaceuticals, Dr. Lubbert accompanies the documentary team to India to take water samples and investigate pharmaceutical pollution i.e. residues from the manufacture of pharmaceuticals entering the environment, and how that contributes to the proliferation of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

You can learn more about this in our antimicrobial resistance (AMR) infographic

Image source: AMR infographic, HCWH Europe (2016)

The research of Dr Joakim Larsson, referenced both in the documentary and our infographic has also been presented in a number of HCWH Europe webinars available on the AMR resources page.

During the documentary, Indian officials demanded that the journalists’ claims - that there are large quantities of pharmaceutical pollution from the sewage of Indian factories - must be substantiated with “concrete scientific evidence”...

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Sustainable Food

Workshop | Food waste in healthcare

Registration is open for HCWH Europe's and The Group of the Greens' upcoming workshop: Food waste in healthcare: European policy and national initiatives on the 27th of June in Brussels.

This workshop, organised by HCWH Europe and kindly hosted by MEP Davor Škrlec (Greens), will provide an overview of the on-going policy developments at both the EU and international levels to prevent and reduce food waste. Member State initiatives on preventing and reducing food waste in the healthcare sector from Ireland, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom will also be explored, and best practices on how hospitals and other healthcare facilities have implemented food waste prevention and reduction strategies will be showcased.


The draft agenda is available here

Preventing and reducing food waste has become a global priority; one third of food produced in the world – approximately 1.3 billion tons – is wasted every year. This misuse of valuable resources has a significant impact on the environment, economy, health, and society as a whole.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 calls for an ambitious target to halve global food waste per capita by 2030. The European Institutions are debating the revision of the Waste Framework Directive, in which the European Parliament has proposed to include a food waste definition, food waste targets, and a food waste hierarchy. The European Commission is also working towards developing a methodology for EU Member States to prevent and reduce food waste in various sectors, from retail to consumption. In this political context, not much attention has been given to the healthcare sector, even though in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, food waste is actually higher than in other food service sectors...

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Reflections from REFRESH food waste conference

The REFRESH (Resource Efficient Food and dRink for the Entire Supply cHain) Food Waste 2017 conference took place between the 18th – 19th of May in Berlin Germany. Diverse actors across Europe and China shared their experiences and discussed food waste prevention, reduction, and potential re-use in order to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.3 - halving food waste per capita at the retail and consumer level, and reducing food losses along production and supply chains. 

The opening day of the conference featured the announcement of the REFRESH Food Waste Solution Contest winners:

These winners deserve recognition and can inspire others organisations and entrepreneurs to find innovative ways to combat food waste. Other ideas presented by exhibitors at the Innovators’ Fair included:

HCWH Europe was also present, exhibiting their recent food waste work including two recent publications.

Breakout sessions were organised to look at different perspectives and approaches to food waste, including what is the role of policy in the measurement and monitoring of food waste. Other topics of discussion included: how to reduce environmental and economic waste management costs, how to best communicate about food waste, and how consumer behaviour can influence the levels of food waste. Every stage of the food chain was discussed, including how to maximise value from unavoidable food waste and packaging materials, such as food waste donation or food waste as animal feed.

To close the first day, a Disco Chop event was organised with REFRESH partner Feedback Global and The Real Junk Food Project Berlin - a perfect way to demonstrate that a more sustainable chain of food production and consumption is possible...

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Member Update

Fundación Alborada congress on environmental medicine

Fundación Alborada is presenting the IX International Congress on Environmental Medicine in Madrid, 22nd-24th June.

This congress will take place in the Faculty of Medicine of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and it will be opened by the Rector of the University and the Dean of Medicine.

The congress will gather over 15 speakers from different countries from Europe and America, who will speak about environment-related diseases such as cancer, autism, chemical sensitivity, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and others. New diagnosis methods and therapies will be presented, along with some projects for monitoring chemicals in the environment and reducing citizens’ exposure.

This is the first activity organised by the newly created Chair in Pathology and Environment as a result of the agreement signed by Fundación Alborada and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. The initial objectives of the Chair in Pathology and Environment are to promote Environmental Medicine through dissemination and education projects for professionals and general public, and to establish a new inter-university and multidisciplinary research group for the investigation of the health consequences of endocrine disruption.

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NHSO's Sustainability Strategy for Health 2017–2019


The National Health Sustainability Office (NHSO), the sustainability office for the Irish Health Service, is pleased to announce that the Health Service Executives leadership team recently approved the Sustainability Strategy for Health 2017 - 2019.

The strategy is the first step on the pathway to achieving a more sustainable health system in Ireland. It sets out the health services' strategic plan to deliver on its commitment to become a leading sustainable organisation delivering low carbon quality sustainable healthcare, with the purpose of preserving natural resources, reducing carbon emissions, mitigating the effects of climate change, and safeguarding high quality patient care. The Strategy embraces the entire health sector in its approach to sustainability, under seven pillars of action.

The NHSO has the role of delivering the Key Actions in this strategy, and implementing programmes to ensure better resource management leading to a healthier environment, the mitigation of climate change, lower costs and improved public health.
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Free webinar: One step closer to a safe blood bag


The PVCfreeBloodBag project are hosting their final webinar on 30th May 2017 at 13:00 CEST. This webinar will answer such questions as:
  • Have we overcome the challenges?
  • How far away is a market introduction?
  • What comes after LIFE?

Petter Höglund, Professor - Karolinska University Hospital, Sweden
Alice Ravizza, Projects regulatory coordinator - Italy
Lena Stig, Project Manager - Region Jämtland Härjedalen, Sweden
Date & time

Tuesday 30th May 2017, 13:00 CEST

Click here for more information on the webinar. This link to participate will be active approximately 10 minutes before the webinar starts.

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Welcome new Health Care Without Harm Europe members

ÄrztInnen für eine gesunde Umwelt (Doctors for a healthy environment) is an Austrian NGO of medical doctors and other health professionals working for a sustainable and fair society. We provide science-based advice for people and policy makers. Our main fields of work are: transport and mobility, climate change, chemicals, electromagnetic fields, air pollution and noise. We are interested in international cooperation and are a founding member of the international umbrella organisation “International Society of Doctors for the Environment” (ISDE) and also a member of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL). We also cooperate with the Austrian environmental NGO coalition in the “oekobuero”. In our understanding “health” and “environment” goes both ways: a “healthy” environment is good for health – and the healthcare sector has a special responsibility for the environment. Because of the latter aspect we are glad that we have become a member of HCWH Europe. Because our international umbrella organisation ISDE already is an HCWH member for many years we have been following HCWH activities closely for several years now. 

ISDE Germany, founded in 1987 exactly one year after the Chernobyl accident under the slogan “Protection of the Environment is the best Prevention” our non-profit organisation is working in the field of Environmental Health. An early focus has already been the pharmaceutical industry, not just for reasons of avoiding unnecessary waste such as from blisters, but also to improve the supply of medicines to the developing world or to improve the situation of environmental patients in Germany. For several years, antibiotic resistance has become increasingly prominent and in the same way the omnipresent environmental distribution of pharmaceuticals, especially in the aquatic environment, in already effective concentrations. We want to work more efficiently on these problems and therefore we wish to strengthen the work at the international level both within HCWH and within ISDE.

Värmland County Council is a politically governed organisation, responsible for the county health and medical care services, as well as dental care. We run about 30 health care centres, three hospitals and 40 dental clinics, located all around the county. Together with the municipalities, the council is also in charge of public transport in the county. Värmland County Council is an active actor in reducing environmental impacts. Recently, we won the Sustainable County Council Award 2017 in a comparison of healthcare in all 21 county councils and regions in Sweden. In some areas we are at the forefront and wants to be a role model for other organisations. Other areas pose new challenges for the future. We continuously want to take advantage of new knowledge and technical innovations in our aim to reduce impacts on the environment and the climate as well as reducing harmful effects on the citizens’ health. During the period 2007 to 2014 Värmland County Council cut greenhouse emissions coming from heating, power consumption and nitrous purchases, by 60%. We have also built a new house at one of the hospitals for operations and is now LEED certified at gold level (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Through the membership with HCWH Europe, we hope to keep up to date in the field of environmental healthcare internationally. While giving us an opportunity to share the experiences and knowledge of others, we can also share our successful environmental work.

The National Health Sustainability Office (NHSO), was established by the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) in 2013 to build awareness among health service staff, patients and the public of sustainability issues, with the aim of achieving lower costs and a healthier environment. The areas of focus include energy efficiency, waste reduction, water conservation, and sustainable transport, alongside the wider issues of sustainability arising in relation to health and wellbeing. The NHSO encourages the development of sustainable facilities and buildings in both design and operation and promotes sustainability in the procurement process.
Providing high quality care to patients is a core value of the HSE. It is recognised that in providing this care, there is an impact on the environment. There is a strong correlation between environmental pollution and disease, and environmental quality with population health. Health has become a more central concern in development, both as a contributor to, and an indicator of, sustainable development. The NHSO joined HCWH in order to learn from others, and to share our knowledge and experiences, with the aim of becoming a leading sustainable organisation delivering low carbon quality sustainable healthcare into the future, with the purpose of preserving natural resources, reducing carbon emissions, mitigating the effects of climate change, and safeguarding high quality patient care.
HCWH Europe members

Global Green and Healthy Hospitals

GGHH reaches new membership milestone

The first quarter of 2017 has been an exciting and productive one for GGHH. In just four months we have surpassed our membership target for the entire year and reached an important milestone in the growth of the network: Over 800 GGHH members representing more than 25,000 hospitals and health centers around the globe.

GGHH now has 805 members in 47 countries on 6 continents who represent the interests of over 25,600 hospitals and health centers. While hospitals and health systems from every continent continue to join GGHH, much of the recent growth comes from a new partnership with the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and the creation of the Health and Environment Leadership Platform (HELP).

Launched in February of this year, HELP engages hospitals, health centers, and health systems around India to form a concerted voice for environmental sustainability in the sector and demonstrate leadership to address the impacts of environmental risk factors for ill health. Nineteen institutions, representing over 3,000 hospitals and health centers are participating in HELP, all of whom make up the newest cohort of GGHH members...
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Other News

2017 HCWH Europe AGM & GGHH Europe members meeting

On 4th and 5th May 2016, the 2017 HCWH Europe Annual General Meeting (AGM) took place at Vivantes Hospital Neukölln, Berlin. Over 40 people representing HCWH Europe and GGHH members from 12 different countries came together to hear about HCWH Europe’s work over the past year and share experiences in sustainable healthcare from their own organisations and regions.

The event also saw the second meeting of European members of HCWH’s Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) network, and members from France, Germany, the UK, and Spain strategised and learned more about the new tools and resources that GGHH offers.

Running parallel to this meeting, HCWH Europe members held the organisation’s AGM, where staff updated members about the work carried out in the past year and members provided feedback on current and future work. HCWH Europe members also approved the current and previous work plan, as well as the financial report for 2016. Additionally, the organisation’s fundraising strategy was laid out and discussed. In discussions about reforms to the governance of HCWH Europe, the organisation relieved four existing board members of their position at the board and welcomed four new board members, appointed by a members’ vote...

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HCWH Europe is recruiting a part time Finance and Admin Officer


HCWH Europe is looking for a dynamic, highly self-organised person that can take initiatives and follow them through, achieving clear measurable results. This position is in Brussels for a person who can handle different demands and work independently while being an excellent team player; 19 hours per week, starting as soon as possible. Job responsibilities will include, finances, human resources, and office management
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