On 4th June 2021, National Programme on Climate Change and Human Health (NPCCHH), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India organised a webinar titled ‘Ecosystem Restoration: Role of Health Sector‘ , in observance of the World Environment Day 2021. The webinar was aimed at inspiring the state and district level program officials across all States and Union territories in India to adopt green and climate resilient measures at all levels of health care and was attended by nearly 350 state –level health officials.
Centre for Environmental Health, the “Centre of Excellence” for Climate Resilient Healthcare & Green Health facilities actively participated in the event. Dr. Poornima Prabhakaran, Head-Environmental Health & Additional Professor, Deputy Director, Centre for Environmental Health, Public Health Foundation of India, was the opening speaker; she talked about “Green and Climate Resilient Healthcare Facilities-Role of Health Sector in ecosystem Restoration”. While speaking about the theme for World Environment Day 2021, she highlighted how ecosystem degradation can lead to changing conditions in temperature, rainfall, sea levels that are responsible for acute climatic events-heat waves, floods, storms, cyclones, droughts, poor air quality.
She also emphasised on how Climate change impacts human health and exacerbates existing inequities- from environmental degradation, degraded social & health inequities to heat-related illnesses & death, respiratory, cardiovascular and mental health issues etc. During her presentation she highlighted the findings of the ground breaking report “Healthcare’s climate footprint released in 2019 by Health Care Without Harm. While citing the findings of the report she touched upon the importance and the need of decarbonising the healthcare sector.
Dr. Poornima explained about the 2020 Guidance for Climate Resilient & Environmentally Sustainable Healthcare Facilities released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to the audience, and walked the participants through the steps for implementation for green and resilient health facilities through an incremental approach based on vulnerability assessments and health & energy audits.
During the event she also introduced to the participants, the Race To Zero campaign by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its healthcare partner Health Care Without Harm. She highlighted that 4 hospitals from India have already committed to a net zero health care delivery by 2050.
During the webinar hospitals from various states shared their experience of green initiatives at their hospitals. One of the three hospitals sharing their experience was Aravind Eye Care Hospital, a member of the Health and Environment Leadership Platform and also a participant in the first global cohort of hospitals of the Race To Zero campaign. Mr. Thulasiraj Ravilaa represented Aravind Eye Care during the event and talked about their initiatives on waste water treatment, solarisation of their premises and other significant pioneering climate-smart initiatives in eye care delivery in India.