WHO and NHS to work together on decarbonization of health care systems across the world

WHO and NHS to work together on decarbonization of health care systems across the world

The World Health Organization and England’s public healthcare system, the National Health Service (NHS), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will see the two organizations cooperate on activities to promote and facilitate the decarbonization of healthcare systems around the world, months after the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in the United Kingdom saw over 50 countries commit to strengthening action on climate change and health.

Signed in the lead up to World Health Day, which this year celebrates the theme, “Our planet, our health”, the MoU will support accelerated healthcare decarbonisation around the world, through shared learning, standards, and resources.

Its purpose is twofold: to provide technical support to, and share expertise among, countries that have committed to the COP26 health initiative on low carbon sustainable healthcare systems; and to bring together a selection of committed healthcare systems from around the world to secure appropriately ambitious decarbonisation commitments and annual emissions reductions, while supporting regulatory and policy alignment. To deliver on the second objective, a global net zero health systems platform will be established.

The key functions of the platform will be to:

  • Share learning between healthcare systems, creating a new forum for healthcare professionals;
  • Support policy alignment on relevant issues, including the development of shared standards, metrics and indicators of progress;
  • Strengthen procurement practices by coordinating mutual support between national healthcare systems;
  • Coordinate innovation funding to fill research and evidence gaps in the delivery of low-carbon healthcare;
  • Provide technical support through online trainings, webinars, and meetings.

In October 2020, the NHS became the first healthcare system in the world to commit to net zero emissions. Delivering against this requires international collaboration, with significant reductions in carbon emissions required from the NHS’s domestic and international supply chain.

Both organizations recognize and promote the importance of climate change and sustainable development to human health, the delivery of healthcare, the well-being of present and future generations, and the public and environmental health benefits associated with effectively addressing climate change.

World Health Day 2022

WHO estimates that more than 13 million deaths around the world each year are due to avoidable environmental causes. This includes the climate crisis which is the single biggest health threat facing humanity. World Health Day, marked on 7 April, will focus global attention on urgent actions needed to keep humans and the planet healthy and foster a movement to create societies focused on well-being.

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