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Report by President of Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists from COP26
Dr Eddie Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in a blog to the RCOG members talks about healthcare & environmental impact, & how preventive measures are so much more green after attending COP26 in Glasgow last week.
He notes that healthcare in the world’s largest economies accounts for over 4% of global CO2 emissions with the UK NHS emitting the equivalent of 25m tonnes of CO2 every year, equivalent to the CO2 emissions of Sri Lanka. Dr Morris was reassured to hear the UK NHS recently announce its aim to be first net zero National Health system by 2045.
He noted that there is significant environmental benefit, along with the numerous already well known benefits, to actively encourage preventive healthcare. Something that is very close to our hearts here at EVB Sport & Core. The estimated figures of CO2 production for a primary care visit vs an outpatient visit vs a day of acute hospital care are 66kg, 76Kg and 125kg respectively.
Dr Morris talks about the impact climate change has on the health of women and children across the globe. He refers to Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) which is the world’s largest alliance for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health and well-being. The vision of PMNCH is a world in which every woman, child and adolescent is able to realize their right to health and well-being, leaving no one behind. The impact of climate change on this group in society is explained in the HealthCare Association Professionals (subgroup within PMNCH) constituency statement which calls on our national leaders to take immediate and bold action in Glasgow.
DR Morris has been appointed UK representative to the FIGO Reproductive and Developmental Environmental Health Committee, which works to identify and respond to specific environmental risks to health faced by women and their families. The goal broadly is to summarize the research specific to women's health and help OBGYNs amplify their roles through education, research, and advocacy. In an article published recently by the committee it recognises that clinicians should consider the carbon footprint of the care they provide; indeed, the healthcare industry is responsible for 1%–5% of total global environmental impacts, and in some nations health care accredits >5% of global health impacts.
Dr Morris notes that the specific risks posed by polluted air and extreme heat events to maternal, fetal and child health and was especially pleased when Senior Vice President of RCOG, Ranee Thakar was recently appointed to the executive of UK Health Alliance on Climate Change.
It is clear that climate change is a huge problem for the planet. We all have a responsibility to look at how we are living and doing business. Small changes can make a difference and we have to lead by example. It is reassuring to note that the President of the RCOG recognises that preventative medicine has a very important role to play. Keeping women away from acute hospital setting can reduce carbon emissions. We know that surgery outcomes in particular when it comes to pelvic health are not always guaranteed. So now we have another reason to help in any way we can to prevent surgery. Cutting carbon emissions and in doing so protecting the lives of women, adolescents and children. It clearly is a case of prevention is better than cure.