Earlier this year the Western Cape Department of Health, with the assistance of environmental justice organization GroundWork, signed up to the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) initiative, with the aim of bringing about environmental awareness and reducing the public health sector’s carbon footprint. The initiative seeks to transform the healthcare sector into one that takes the lead in bringing about environmental change.
Through the delivery of healthcare services, the sector has often unwittingly contributed to the global climate change issue. The effects of climate change mean that patients continue to get sick as a result of toxic chemicals in the air, forcing them to return to hospitals. The initiative, which has been created by international NGO Health Care Without Harm, aims to reduce the sectors contribution to this cycle.
According to GGHH campaigner, Luqman Yesufu, the new initiative was seeking to create a broader way for the healthcare sector to assist patients.
“For a long time the health care sector has always focused only on the patients. GGHH is trying to make sure they look at it from a broader global perspective, which includes the community and environment,” he said.
The first hospital to embrace the GGHH campaign was the Lentegeur Psychiatric Hospital in Mitchell’s Plain. According to Yesufu, the hospital has implemented a specific model that will hopefully reduce its environmental impact.
Since then other hospitals have also followed suit. They include the Victoria, Valkenberg Psychiatric, Khayelitsha, and Mitchell’s Plain hospitals. The Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre and the University of Stellenbosch have also signed up.
The respective hospitals will now be strongly encouraged to make changes in at least two out of ten areas. They include chemical usage, water and electricity consumption, food, pharmaceuticals, and transportation amongst others.
“The healthcare environment needs to recognize that they are very important and there voice is very important. They have to raise their voice on climate change, and start reducing their footprint,” said Yesufu.
“You can’t just treat patients and send them back into the community, and then they come back to you at the end of the day.”
GroundWork, are helping the Western Cape Department of Health facilitated the initiative, are to host a workshop for member hospitals from across Africa to provide more insight surrounding the GGHH. The workshop will take place at the Mitchell’s Plain Hospital on Friday 3rd October. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)