On July 12th and 13th, 2023, Health Care Without Harm held the 5th Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Latin American Conference. It was a space for dialogue on the main environmental challenges and responses in the health care sector and to learn about specific experiences that have led to progress in health care facilities within the region, in line with the goals of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Sustainability Agenda.
The hybrid event was held in the main auditorium of the Hospital Universitario Mayor (Calle 24 #29-45, Bogotá, Colombia), belonging to Méderi Red Hospitalaria.
It was a free activity, which had simultaneous Spanish-English translation. Throughout the two days of the event, about 130 people participated in person and about 200 people followed the actions through streaming on our YouTube channels.
The opening of the first day of the event was in charge of Mauricio Rubio Buitrago, executive president of Méderi Red Hospitalaria, and Carolina Gil Posse, director of programs and communications for Health Care Without Harm in Latin America.
Next, Jaquelina Tapia, technical manager of programs, and Andrea Hurtado Epstein, climate program manager for Health Care Without Harm in Latin America, provided details about the work carried out within the framework of GGHH.
Then it was Dolores Barrientos' turn, representative in Mexico and focal point for Guatemala of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). In her presentation, entitled "Triple planetary crisis and One Health initiative", Barrientos stressed that "climate change is a multilateral problem and that international commitments must be even stronger".
Evelyn Panadero, coordinator of environmental management of Méderi Red Hospitalaria, closed the initial block with references to the important work in environmental sustainability that her institution has been developing.
The panel of "Sustainable procurement, food and pharmaceutical products", began with the presentation of María Marta Cozzarin ("Environmental impact assessment of pharmaceutical products"), who told details about the work in sustainable procurement at the Ushuaia Regional Hospital Governor Ernesto Campos (Argentina).
The next intervention was in charge of Suara Alejandra Cuervo, coordinator of operational and environmental services of the Medihelp Clinic, who presented the initiative "Farmer markets in health", a very interesting project carried out by this Colombian health establishment with the firm challenge of "increasing the frequency" of them.
The day continued with the word of Brenda Arias, environmental manager of the Colsubsidio Clinic (Colombia) who valued the influence of the Sustainable procurement in health care guide –prepared by Health Care Without Harm– in her work on "Sustainable procurement and management with suppliers".
Then, Dr. Javier Rubén Tovar, from the University Clinic, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (Peru), spoke about "Pharma-contamination: the silent threat" and highlighted, among other things, that "an inhaler pollutes like a car that travels 280 kilometers".
"To measure is to understand. Our carbon footprint made us rethink the Global Agenda," said Verónica Torres Cerino, head of the Toxicology and Environment Service of the Austral Hospital (Argentina), in the middle of her presentation called "Re-thought and intelligent procurement".
Then, Juan Gallardo, head of the Agriculture and Green Areas Unit of the Dr. Philippe Pinel Psychiatric Hospital (Chile), told details of the work on "Agroecological sowing in health" carried out by his institution.
In the afternoon, Claudia Lorena Paz, technical projects facilitator for Health Care Without Harm in Latin America, opened the panel on "Substitution of single-use plastics/devices and chemicals of concern to human health and the environment" and introduced the "Global criteria for the purchase of examination and surgical gloves". He did so in a joint presentation with Julián Sánchez, from the Hospital de Especialidades Pediátricas "Omar Torrijos Herrera" (Panama), who stressed the importance of training staff and suppliers about the proper use and management of gloves.
Then, Jhon Jairo Echeverry, clinical pharmacy leader of the Valle del Lili Foundation (Colombia), spoke about the "silent contamination" of chlorine and left four recommendations to take into account to face this problem.
"The important thing is to generate a culture of purchase and sustainable consumption," said Mónica Lisett Castaño Tovar, coordinator of environmental management and sanitation of the Valle del Lili Foundation, who made an interesting presentation on strategies for the reduction and elimination of plastic.
Next, Juliana Pinheiro De Jesus, National Environment Manager of Unitedhealth Group Brazil, spoke about the use of textile waste in health facilities, after which a video on environmental management at the Military Hospital of Nicaragua was screened.
The first day closed with a workshop on life cycle analysis of medical products or devices (with active participation of both face-to-face and virtual attendees) and with the word of Jaquelina Tapia, technical manager of programs for Health Care Without Harm in Latin America, who invited to continue working in a network to transform the health sector.
The opening of the second day of the 5th GGHH Latin American Conference was in charge of Claudia Lorena Paz, technical facilitator of projects for Health Care Without Harm in Latin America, who made a presentation that included key criteria to organize sustainable health events.
Then it was the turn of Diego Moreno, coordinator of the Healthy Territory Group, Subdirectorate of Environmental Health of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Colombia, who referred to the advances in the management of climate change and health in that country. "In mitigation, we have been advancing hand in hand with Health Care Without Harm in estimating the carbon footprint of the health system," said Moreno.
"The adverse effects of climate change are accelerating and will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable populations," said Stella Hartinger, who presented the results of the report "The Lancet Countdown: Health and Climate Change in South America".
At the beginning of the panel dedicated to "Climate change, transportation and energy", Patricia Segura, representative of the Alianza Hospital of Ecuador, referred to the absorption and reduction of the footprint through the "Sello Reduzco" project. "The main objective is to reduce the carbon footprint generated by the mobility of staff, contractors and visitors", he said.
Andrés Silva, commercial manager of Try My Ride, and María Paula González, head of Development and Well-being of the Cardioinfantil Foundation (La Cardio) provided details about a sustainable mobility experience in that Colombian health institution, while Juan Esteban Palacio, environmental management leader of Coopsana IPS (Colombia), detailed the actions they implement in their institution to mitigate the climate footprint due to personnel transfers.
"Everything goes through a purchasing decision," said Alessandra Azevedo, director responsible for the sustainable procurement agenda of Projeto Hospitais Saudáveis in her presentation on climate mitigation in health in Brazil.
"We want to adopt this motto of healthy hospitals, a healthy planet, healthy people," Karina Pavão Patricio, founder and coordinator of the Center for Sustainable Hospitals of the Hospital das Clinicas da Faculdade de Medicina de Botucatu (Brazil), said later in her presentation "Actions to reduce carbon footprint".
"We are all leaders and we have to do our bit", said Jorge Palomares, administrative assistant in quality and liaison of the State Network of Green and Healthy Hospitals of ISEM, Temoaya Municipal Hospital (Mexico), who made a presentation called "The world moves with energy".
Then, it was the turn of Andrés Alvarado, quality and environment manager of Clínica Bíblica (Costa Rica), who presented his "Initiatives for the reduction of inhaled anesthetic gases". "The Race to Zero put positive pressure on us because it makes us think about the road to 2050", Alvarado said.
In the afternoon, Claudia Lorena Paz, technical projects facilitator for Health Care Without Harm in Latin America, opened the panel "Leadership and inclusion in environmental management" and in her presentation mentioned three key principles: back to basics, back to the origin and respect the land.
"For us, it has been very important to strengthen the environmental awareness of communities respecting their beliefs," said Jhon Mellizo, environmental management professional at Clínica La Estancia (Colombia), who spoke about "Intercultural and sustainable health care".
Next, Aura Moreno and Diana Victoria Muñoz, from the San Antonio de Pitalito Departmental Hospital (Colombia), provided details about an original and interesting initiative: "School of sustainable midwifery and medicinal chagra with indigenous communities".
The final segment of the 5th Conference was destined to a discussion table on the challenges and opportunities for public policies of sustainability in the health sector. "Sometimes, from the government we do not have that constant interaction with the territories and that is one of the great challenges," said Diego Moreno, coordinator of the Healthy Territory Group of the Subdirectorate of Environmental Health of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Colombia. "The main thing is to generate awareness, that we know what we are doing these things for," added Juan Pablo Compas, coordinator of the Environmental Management and Hospital Sustainability Area of the Undersecretariat of Healthcare Networks of the Ministry of Health of Chile. "One of the most important challenges is culture change. We must promote greater awareness," said Adriana Romero, financial administrative director of the Carlos Sáenz Herrera National Children's Hospital (Costa Rica). "Finding resources is always a challenge. Where resources are so limited, the environmental part may be in the last link in the chain," said Jorge Darío Duque, environmental management professional at the San Rafael Hospital in Pasto (Colombia).
"A door is open for policies to be formulated from the knowledge of the territory and consultations", said Jaquelina Tapia, technical manager of programs for Health Care Without Harm in Latin America, in her conclusions of the two days of the 5th Conference.
Rodolfo Rossi, deputy hospital director of Méderi Hospital Network, thanked all the people who participated in the 5th GGHH Latin American Conference and invited to continue building a greener and healthier future.
"Capture this very positive energy and enjoy everything you are building", proposed Carolina Gil Posse, director of programs and communications for Health Care Without Harm in Latin America, at the official closing of the conference.
Below, we provide the links so that you can access the recordings of the two days of the event:
To review the event's agenda, click here.
To revisit the 4th Latin American Conference of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network (December 2021), click here (agenda and recordings available in English).