Do Hospitals Do More Harm than Good?
Written by Luqman Yesufu; GGHH Campaign Manager, Membership Outreach and Engagement in Africa; groundWork. Source: groundWork
The members of the Global Green and Healthy Hospital network aim to ensure that they do no harm while providing health services.
The prevention of illness, injury and disease is an essential part of healthcare. We engage in healthy life style habits such as exercising and not smoking to prevent obesity and lung cancer. We vaccinate our children regularly to stimulate immunity and thus protect them from disease. We educate young boys and girls in order to promote safe sex and thus prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. On the basis of this, there is remarkable evidence to show that prevention works better than treating a disease. If this is the case, the health care sector must lead by example by engaging in more sustainable practices that are aimed at preventing disease and promoting good health without compromising patient care and safety.
Hospitals produce enormous amounts of waste, but only a small portion (about 15%) is actually infectious or poses high risk; 75% – 85% of the waste is categorized as normal municipal waste which has low risk to ill health, except of course if it is burnt. This should be music to the ears of hospital administrators, especially as the bulk of the money spent on treatment and disposal of medical waste is actually spent on the infectious waste. So, since you produce less, you should spend less. Unfortunately this is not the case, as hospitals in South Africa pay over the odds to get their waste treated and disposed of. There are two main reason for this: poor leadership and poor waste management practices.
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