TRANSFORMING THE HEALTH SECTOR
BY PROMOTING ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY
A child born today will experience a world that is more than 4 degrees warmer than the pre-industrial average, with climate change impacting human health from infancy and adolescence to adulthood and old age (The Lancet, 2019). Without accelerated intervention, this new era will come to define the health of the planet and people at every stage of their lives.
Climate changes and natural disasters impact the health of affected people, influence over 80 percent of the communicable and non-communicable diseases, changing disease patterns and the delivery of available health services. In addition, health commodities, including medicines, diagnostics and medical waste, contribute to carbon dioxide emissions.
WHY FOCUS ON SUSTAINABLE HEALTH SECTOR?
The health sector, whose mandate is to prevent and cure disease, makes a significant contribution to the global climate crisis. If the global health sector were a country, it would be the fifth-largest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet (Health Care Climate Footprint Report, HCWH, 2019).
Health systems generate significant environmental impacts both at the up and downstream. These range from service delivery, to the natural resources and products health systems procure and consume, to the waste they generate. This, in turn, contributes to climate change, chemical contamination, resource depletion, biodiversity loss, air and water pollution.
HEALTH PROCUREMENT AS LEVERAGE
Public procurement has been identified as a crucial entry point for promoting more sustainable production and consumption patterns. For example, sustainable procurement practices can reduce a significant proportion of the health sector’s GHGs (Natural Resource Footprint, NHS Sustainable Development Unit, 2018). Research shows that supply chain-related emissions account for 82 percent of the carbon footprint of UNDP-administered Global Fund for HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis projects in Tajikistan (Carbon footprint of UNDP Global Fund health initiatives in Montenegro and Tajikistan, UNDP, Arup, 2013).
By adopting sustainable procurement policies, strategies and practices, governments and international development actors can, therefore, be drivers for a significant shift towards inclusive, green economies (Health in the Green Economy: Co-benefits to the health of climate change mitigation, WHO, 2010). Sustainable procurement, particularly when it can be carried out at scale, can be a vital strategy to push demand for sustainable production and waste management within the health sector globally.
ABOUT THE SPP INTEREST GROUP ON HEALTH
UNDP and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) co-lead the One Planet Network SPP Interest Group on Health. UNDP, the Host Agency to the UN Sustainable Procurement in the Health Sector (SPHS), and HCWH, a civil-society leader on sustainable procurement in the health, bring a wealth of experience on the subject. UNDP-SPHS also convenes a global network of more than 4,000 relevant technical experts from around the world, and HCWH coordinates the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network (GGHH), which has 1,300 members representing the interests of over 43,000 hospitals and health care facilities in 68 countries. Leveraging on these networks, the Interest Group aims at improving human health and reducing greenhouse gases, resource depletion, chemical pollution and human and labour rights violations in the global health supply chains. This Group serves as a mechanism to enable discussions, exchange knowledge and practice, and enhance a wider uptake of good practices on sustainable procurement, production and disposal among various stakeholder organizations operating in the health sector.
The One Planet Network SPP Interest Group on Health supports the development and implementation of gender sensitive, sustainable and ethical procurement policies that positively impact the global health supply chains and to ensure the principle of doing no harm.
INTEREST GROUP MEMBERS
For more information about the Interest Group and how to engage in the envisaged areas of work, please contact the coordinators.
Dr. Rosemary Kumwenda
Project Manager, Sustainable Health in Procurement Project (SHiPP), UNDP
Advisor, Strengthening Sustainability in the Health Sector in Developing Countries, UNDP
International Sustainability Director, Health Care Without Harm
Project Coordinator, Sustainable Health in Procurement Project (SHiPP), Health Care Without Harm