January 2018

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Climate & Energy
Sustainable Food
Member Update
CleanMed Europe 2018
Other News
Climate & Energy

Improving energy efficiency through behaviour change

Improving energy efficiency is an easy and simple way for the healthcare sector to reduce costs whilst improving both human and environmental health through reduced emissions and better air quality. HCWH Europe has just released a factsheet showing how low-cost behaviour change programmes can simultaneously increase energy efficiency and improve the quality of patient care in health facilities.

“The health sector exists to protect health. Hospitals and health systems have the moral responsibility and social obligation to be leaders in the fight against climate change by reducing their own toxic emissions and minimising the harm they cause to human and environmental health."

- Ana-Christina Gaeta, HCWH Europe Climate & Resources Policy Officer

While obvious measures such as replacing energy systems with more efficient ones or using renewable energy sources will yield large, long-term financial savings and environmental and health benefits for the healthcare sector, they require large investments and are often unfeasible within current healthcare budgets.

As demonstrated by the case studies in the factsheet, simple low-cost staff empowerment measures can also save significant amounts of energy and money - reducing GHG emissions and harmful air pollutants through effective behaviour change approaches. HCWH Europe encourages hospitals and health systems to learn from these experiences and introduce capacity building programmes in their facilities. 

Taking simple steps towards greater energy efficiency, hospitals and health systems can improve the health of their patients and local communities, and reduce the associated costs of patient re-admissions and lengthy stays.

Read more


Please take 20 minutes to protect human and environmental health


In the right place, pharmaceuticals save lives and prevent disease, but it is now well known that pharmaceuticals in the environment represent a global pollution problem that poses a risk to both human and environmental health. Pharmaceutical drugs such as antibiotics, antidepressants, or oral contraceptives, remain in surface waters, soil, and sewage effluents, which adversely affects wildlife, and contaminates food crops and drinking water.

Research has shown that over 600 pharmaceutical agents or their transformation products have been found in the environment worldwide.

Within the EU, nearly 4,000 pharmaceutical products have been authorised for both human and veterinary use; Europe is the second largest consumer of medicinal products in the world (after the U.S.) and the pharmaceutical pollution associated with their manufacture, use, and disposal is a cross-border problem.

In an effort to recognise the scale of this issue and within its responsibility to protect citizens’ health as well as regulatory obligations, the European Commission has recently launched a public consultation to assist in the development of a Strategic Approach to Pharmaceuticals in the Environment. They are currently seeking responses to the proposed options from a recent report about the Approach.

These consultations are a vital mechanism in the development of EU legislation and an ideal opportunity for EU citizens to have their say on the future of environmental and human health. By participating in the consultation, citizens can express their views on potential community level measures aimed at tackling risks posed by pharmaceuticals in the environment.

Submitting your response should not take longer than 20 minutes and all of the necessary details and information are included in this guidance document on the Safer Pharma website -

Thank you in advance for helping to protect human and environmental health in the EU and joining HCWH Europe in the fight for more environmentally responsible healthcare.

Submit your response today

New translations - How doctors can help reduce pharmaceutical pollution


Aside from manufacturing, two ways that pharmaceuticals enter the environment is through improper disposal (e.g. sinks and toilets) and through human excretion.

Each year in the UK alone, an estimated £300m (approximately €375m) worth of dispensed medicines go unused and are ultimately discarded.

Even when pharmaceuticals are consumed as prescribed, between 30-90% of an oral dose of medicine can be excreted as an active substance in urine and wastewater treatment plants are unable to completely filter out these residues. This means they can re-enter the water supply and spread to surface waters and agricultural lands and ultimately end up in drinking water, vegetables, and fish. We can therefore be unintentionally exposed to these residues by consuming contaminated water and food.

Doctors control the duration and dosage of individual prescriptions, and are well positioned to help reduce the risk for accumulation of unused pharmaceuticals that become waste and can end up in the environment.

HCWH Europe’s publication: How doctors can help reduce pharmaceutical pollution provides clear and simple ways that doctors can adapt their prescription practices and conversations with patients. This publication is now available in five languages on the HCWH Europe website:


           English [EN]              German [DE]               Spanish [ES]               French [FR]                  Italian [IT]

Read more

Sustainable Food

New brochure shows how hospitals can reduce patient malnutrition with a circular economy approach


Approximately 100 million tonnes of food is wasted annually in the EU across all stages of the food chain, and 14% of this food waste is attributed to food services alone. Not only does food waste have a significant economic impact - it also impacts on society and the environment, contributing to land and soil degradation, water pollution, and resource depletion.

HCWH Europe’s latest publication: Reducing hospital malnutrition with a circular economy approach, explores the connection between food waste and malnutrition of patients, and how a healthy and sustainable food policy (that also covers procurement), can help improve patient care, reduce malnutrition and healthcare costs. 

Several studies have shown that patients often do not consume a full meal, subsequently lose weight during their hospital stay, and an unacceptable number of pa­tients become malnourished in healthcare facilities. Malnutrition, however, is often not detected or monitored which can lead to:

  • Longer hospital stays
  • Increased intake of medication
  • Increased risk of infections or complications, leading to increased readmissions
  • Possible fatality

These consequences have a direct effect on healthcare costs, both at an institutional and system level. A systemic multi-level approach is required to tackle the root causes of these costs, and should be implemented by hospitals and health systems to support sustainable food systems, and re-think the way in which food is purchased, prepared, served, and disposed.

According to a study at Wa­geningen University and Research in The Netherlands, over 25% of food purchased by healthcare institutions ends up as waste. Healthcare facilities must recognise food’s value for the health and wellbeing of patients during treatment, and improve the environmental and economic performance of their food ser­vice. There are two key elements vital for the development of a healthy and sustainable food policy...

Continue reading

Member Update

What has gender got to do with chemicals?

Earlier this month, a documentary produced by HCWH Europe member Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF) was broadcast on Nigerian International TV. The 30 minute documentary What has Gender got to do with Chemicals, was produced by the BRS (Basel-Stockhom-Rotterdam) Conventions, WECF, Balifokus and Women Environmetal Programme (WEP) and made by filmmaker Laure Poinsot.

In Africa’s most populated country, Nigeria, with its almost 200 million inhabitants, toxic pollution from waste is yet another challenge to society, economy and security. Nigerian International TV broadcast the documentary film analysing how waste is leading to toxic pollution in Nigeria and highlights the solutions women and men are already working on.


The film shows how women and men are impacted by toxic pollution from waste and chemicals – partly imported illegally from Europe and America - while it visits the hidden e-waste markets and waste dumps around the country. 

Although authorities have already stopped a number of container ships carrying illicit imports of e-waste, the problem is much larger, as products ‘legally’ imported and produced, such as plastic packaging and industrial products, also become toxic when burned in the open. This polluted food, air, water and agricultural soils with so-called ‘persistent organic pollutants’ which can cause cancer, and lead to the rejection of food exports from Nigeria.

The film also shows how social entrepreneurs, women’s organisations, authorities and the UN are working on solutions, such as waste collection, recycling and production of safe pesticides from the indigenous Neem tree.

Watch the documentary online here.


The film was screened in the presence of the protagonists from government and civil society at a high level event organised by WEP Nigeria and WECF on the 10th of January at Royal Choice Inn in Abuja, followed by a panel discussion including the Ministry of Environment and the UN. The film is accompanied by the publication “Gender Dimensions of Hazardous Chemicals and Waste policies under the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions”.

Read more on the WECF website

CleanMed Europe 2018

CleanMed Europe 2018 - Call for proposals now open!


We are now accepting proposals for presentations for the CleanMed Europe 2018 conference, taking place in Nijmegen, Netherlands from October 10th - 12th.

CleanMed Europe is Europe’s leading conference on sustainable healthcare and will provide the optimal platform to share the latest industry trends, discuss diverse topics related to environmental sustainability, network, and learn from international thought leaders.


Submit your proposal today!

The 2018 conference will be hosted by Radboud university medical center - a leading academic centre for patient care, education, and research, whose mission is ‘to have a significant impact on healthcare’. The medical centre’s activities help to improve healthcare and consequently the health of individuals and of society.

Nijmegen is also the 2018 European Green Capital and CleanMed Europe will fit into an exciting programme of events and initiatives in the city throughout the year.

Learn more at

Other News

Communications Handbook for IPCC scientists from Climate Outreach

Cliamte Outreach's Communications Handbook was commissioned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group I Technical Support Unit. This is the first time such guidance has been produced for the world’s leading scientific body on climate change.

Dr Valérie Masson Delmotte (Co-chair of IPCC WGI), who reviewed the Handbook, said, “This is a beautiful Handbook and I wish I could have received such guidance when I was first involved as an IPCC author.”

The Handbook sets out six principles for effective communication, ahead of the IPCC’s 1.5 degrees special report later this year.

Just like the IPCC reports themselves, Climate Outreach believes the way IPCC authors engage with the public should be based on the best available evidence.

With a wealth of research on the science of climate change communication and a focus on practical tips and case studies, this Handbook serves as a valuable resource for IPCC authors - as well as the wider scientific community - to engage audiences with climate change.

Join the lead author Dr Adam Corner (Research Director, Climate Outreach) in a webinar on Monday 5th February at 3pm GMT as he presents key insight from the Handbook. He will be joined by Dr Roz Pidcock (Head of Communication, IPCC WG1) who will introduce the webinar, and there will be time for a discussion with participants.

Watch this 90 second video for a quick glance at the 6 principles presented in the Handbook

Learn more


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