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Treating Healthcare's Environmental Side Effects

Doctors abide by a millennia-old Hippocratic oath to “do no harm.” This oath usually refers to patient care, but today’s guest thinks the motto should extend to the environmental standards of the healthcare industry as well. Zhao Ang is the co-founder of Rock Energy and Environment Institute (REEI), a Chinese think tank that researches environment and climate issues. In the episode, he walks us through the impacts of healthcare on the environment from disposing the mercury thermometers Chinese hospitals still use to the supply chain of pharmaceuticals. As for climate impacts, the organization estimates that healthcare contributes 3-5% of China’s emissions and rising as the industry booms. REEI works with the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals alliance to introduce best practices in resiliency, low-carbon policies, and eco-friendly products to China, including facilitating a partnership with three Chinese hospitals. For more information on best practices, see the World Bank report “Climate-smart Healthcare” (English), which REEI translated into Chinese and recently launched in China.

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