The Covid-19 pandemic has imposed serious challenges on healthcare systems. To address these, a timely webinar series “Pathways to a Healthy and Equitable Recovery” was launched by Health Care Without Harm Asia Advisory Council (HCWH-AAC) on 30 September 2020.
The first webinar of the series was entitled “Climate- and Pandemic-Resilient Healthcare through Clean Energy and Sustainable Waste Management” featuring case studies from Bihar, India and Iloilo, Philippines, ably moderated by Mr. Renzo Guinto, Chief Planetary Doctor of PH Lab.
In his opening address, Mr. Ang Zhao, Chairman of the HCWH-AAC, raised the question, “Will the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic pose a turning point for the global community to shift the traditional economic development model from fossil fuel based to a new sustainable model that’s renewable energy based? I hope this first webinar in this new series will encourage us to think big and act determinably.”
Dr. Ravinkant Singh, Founder of Doctors for You, India, shared the compelling story of Vistex Rural Hospital, in Masarhi, Bihar. “Our electricity costs were drastically reduced by almost 70% after we changed to solar,” said Dr. Ravinkant, who added that the move also ensured a more steady electrical supply. The hospital partnered with Selco Foundation to make this transition.
Ms Huda Jaffer from SELCO Foundation, explained how they help take healthcare further with its value-chain approach to the provision of sustainable energy and built environment solutions for healthcare facilities, especially those serving poorer communities. Covid-19 has resulted in a huge increase in single-use plastic waste especially from medical facilities across Asia. To counter this, Vistex Hospital has instituted a “rational use” of PPEs wherein full PPEs are used only in the ICU and basic PPEs in other parts of the hospital, without compromising staff and patient safety.
Similar safe, rational practices were shared by Sr. Arcelita Sarnillo of St. Paul’s Hospital, Iloilo, Philippines. This Global Green and Healthy Hospital (GGHH) member uses reusable PPEs: silver taffeta cloth to make reusable hospital gowns, caps and shoe covers; and washable cloth masks with surgical masks (changed weekly) inserted inside. The PPEs undergo reprocessing―a simple procedure of disinfecting with sodium hypochlorite, rinsing and sundrying―before reuse. “This is saving us PHP 8.35 million a month compared to buying disposable PPEs and PHP 135,000 in PPE disposal costs”, said Sr. Arcelita.
These sustainable practices are proof that “reusable is possible”, a catch-phrase introduced by speaker, Ms. Beau Baconguis from GAIA Asia Pacific. “By wearing a mask, we actively fight back against the pandemic. By wearing a reusable one, we’re also fighting back against the rising tide of disposable masks. We can protect the people AND the planet by choosing to reuse.”
Mr Ramon San Pascaul, Executive Director of HCWH SE Asia, summed up aptly, “there is no such thing as an overwhelming situation where we just surrender. We in Asia are primed to innovate and build back better. We have proved that hospitals can also be hubs of production and solutions.” ###
If you missed this webinar, you can watch the recording here: <<<https://youtu.be/w56cFR-1s0w>>>