Just a week ago we celebrated the World Environment Day 2021. A day that has highlighted, for yet another year, the importance of caring for the environment, preserving biodiversity and progressively eliminating the carbon footprint. In fact, according to the strategic dictation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)In the year 2050, the CO2 emission should be zero and all the energy we consume must come from green methods.
Taking care of the planet, as we see, is no longer an option, but an obligation that we all have, both people, organizations, governments and companies, because the resources we have are finite. All sectors of activity also have a responsibility and are moving towards a zero carbon footprintFor this reason, most companies have a very strong and committed environmental and sustainability strategy because only in this way will we achieve sustainable environmental survival.
In this sense, and taking into account this challenge, one of the greatest that modern humanity has faced, the Jiménez Díaz Foundation has taken another step in its commitment to the planet and has declared a climate emergency in order to raise awareness about the need to implement a sustainable model with broad repercussions and impact that helps reduce the carbon footprint and thus improve the climate change.
But, in addition, the hospital center has presented its specific contribution to this objective through the ambitious program: MAS +, Environment and Health in order to reduce the impact of healthcare on the environment.
The health sector generates 4.4% of CO2 emissions
The Dr. Felipe Villar, Associate Head of the Pneumology Service at the Madrid hospital, who has been one of the leaders of this new project, explained that “the health sector generates 4.4% of the emissions that produce the carbon footprint at the world. So much so that, if it were a country, would be the fifth producer of this in the world, which means that health personnel and institutions must exercise responsibility and be the first to advocate and contribute to improving climate change and thus protecting the health of our patients.
The MAS + program, promoted last January, is made up of the design and development of several initiatives in different areas of the activity of the Jiménez Díaz Foundation to reduce the carbon footprint generated by health practice in what is refers to the sustainability of the center and the medical acts.
Engineering and Maintenance
Regarding Engineering and Maintenance, the expert has indicated that «our hospital is not only pioneer in the implementation of sustainable energy systems that make it more efficient to reduce the carbon footprint, but it complies with all national and international regulations in this regard, which demonstrates its clear positioning “.
Another field of work, Dr. Villar has continued, is that of the health activity proper, in which the key is to find sustainability between medical actions and caring for the environment, directly translating the efforts into health in both cases, and the improvements applied in the use of anesthetic gases and inhalers and in the recycling protocols.
MAS + promotes that, always prioritizing the health of the patient and in the face of equal benefits for the patient, increase the indication of anesthetic drugs that are less harmful to the environment compared to those such as nitrous oxide or fluorinated gases, which generate a higher carbon footprint.
The management of bronchodilators or corticosteroids using inhalation devices that generate less greenhouse effect is also contemplated. That is, an increase in use of dry powder inhalers (DPI) or fine mist inhalers (SMI) to the detriment of pressurized metered dose inhalers (pMDI), which use hydrofluorocarbons as propellants.
For this reason, Dr. Villar has concluded that «the use of a pMDI inhaler for a month, the period for which it is usually prescribed, is equivalent to the carbon footprint generated by a car that must travel a distance of about 300 kilometers, while the use of a DPI or SMI inhaler for the same time generates the one that would travel the same vehicle along only 6 kilometers».
With regard to the recycling of drugs and packaging, which is another of the areas that has the greatest environmental impact, the Jiménez Díaz Foundation is making great strides among professionals and patients because, according to it, “it is not just about substituting one inhaler or anesthetic for another or raising awareness about where to deposit different materials; the challenge is to design adequate protocols so that the benefit to the patient is real and that there is not only a therapeutic indication, but also learning.
And he also recalled that it is not only a task that only corresponds to the medical professional, but to all the people who make up society. In this sense, the pulmonologist stressed, “it is so important to know prescribe a drug well so that the patient has good information and education on its use, or that he knows where he can dispense a surplus medical treatment that he will not use, an empty inhaler or a blister that no longer has drugs.
Environment and Health: awareness and communication
On this, Dr. Villar believes that «we have to inform the population very well that the improvement of climate change is not only linked to an improvement of the environment, but also to a prevention of its diseases, and that for this it is reducing the carbon footprint and pollution as important as having a healthy life.
He also believes that to continue with the sustainability strategy, companies and organizations must bet on digitization and bet on non-face-to-face services. «Carry out a telecare or e-consultation, work digitally, without papers, or empower the patient as a manager of their own health process through an application that optimizes communication with the hospital decreasing displacements to this is another way to reduce the carbon footprint that generates medical care because it uses fewer resources that produce it (electricity, paper…) and minimizes the use of vehicles that emit greenhouse gases ”, he insisted.
To conclude, Dr. Villar insisted that with the MAS + project «we want the Jiménez Díaz Foundation to be an example for the rest of the sectors, especially health, when it comes to reducing the carbon footprint, reverse climate change and thus protect the health of our population and our patients because caring for the environment is also protecting health, both in prevention and cure.