Officials from the Royal Government of Bhutan’s Ministry of Health recently visited three Philippine hospitals, all members of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) network, to learn about and discuss sustainability in the hospital/health care sector as well as the best practices and experiences to green these institutions in the Philippines.

The visit was organized by HCWH-Asia in partnership with the World Health Organization Southeast Asia Office (WHO-SEARO).

The delegation included three members of Bhutan’s Ministry of Health, headed by the Department of Medical Services, Health Care and Diagnostic Division Deputy Chief Program Officer Mr. Rinchen Namgyel, along with Officiating Project Director and Senior Engineer. Tsering Dupchu, and Junior Engineer. Yangchen Wangmo. Of particular interest to this group was to learn about waste and waste management practices at hospitals in the Philippines.

Bhutan is known for coining the term Gross National Happiness (GNH), an assessment to measure the quality of life in a more holistic manner as opposed to the exclusively economic indicators of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The concept is based on four pillars: sustainable and equitable socio-economic development, conservation of environment, preservation and promotion of culture, and good governance. The delegation to the Philippines found that public and environmental health, and therefore GNH, could be improved by reducing hospitals’ footprint..

During the delegation’s visit to the three different Philippine hospitals, each showcased their efforts and experience in greening their facilities. The Philippine Heart Center covered a wide array of issue areas including hospital leadership prioritizing sustainability and environmental health, substitution of harmful chemicals, waste management, transportation strategies within the health setting, sourcing and serving sustainably grown food, management of pharmaceuticals, green hospital design, and safe and sustainable purchasing.

Maria Reyna Xavier University Hospital showcased their materials recovery facility as well as the waste management practices. Perpetual Succor Hospital highlighted their biogas technology. These practices all fall within the ten GGHH goals.

The Bhutan health ministry and the three Philippine hospitals formed a strong relationship during the visit and continue to share their knowledge and experiences. Through trainings and discussions they are collaborating to identify the practices best suited for the health sector in Bhutan in order to achieve improved sustainability, environmental health and Gross National Happiness.

Bhutan health ministry meets Philippine Heart Center officials to share green health care practices. [Photo by HCWH]

Green hospital practices are everywhere. Visit to Maria Reyna Xavier University Hospital in Cagayan de Oro, North-Southern Philippines. [Photo by HCWH]

Bhutan health ministry meets Philippine Heart Center officials to share green health care practices. [Photo by HCWH]