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Western Health's sustainability steps are going global

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Western Health's sustainability steps are going global

​Western Health anaesthetist and intensive care physician Dr Forbes McGain is presenting at the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) tonight, as part of an online discussion on mitigating the environmental impacts of healthcare.

"Healthcare has a carbon footprint," Dr McGain said.

"It makes up 5 per cent of total global emissions of carbon dioxide and if it was a nation its emissions would be similar to the size of Russia.

"In the United States, the healthcare system alone emits more CO2 than everything that everyone does in the UK.

"And in Australia, 7 per cent of our total carbon emissions are due to healthcare."

By focusing on reducing our carbon footprint in our workplace on an individual, departmental and industry wide level can have a profound impact.

Dr McGain will join a panel of international speakers in the World Health Organisation (WHO) Heath Pavilion discussing how research, clinical leadership, institutions and industry can reduce the impact of healthcare on the environment.

"I'll be talking about clinical leadership," Dr McGain said.

"This includes everything from what you can do as an individual doctor, nurse or healthcare professional in your daily practice, to what you can do at a departmental level, for instance, changing from disposable to reusable equipment, through to the hospital level."

Dr McGain, who is a member of Doctors for the Environment Australia, is renowned for collaborating to create healthcare that is less polluting and expensive and more environmentally sustainable.

He has been singled out for excellence for his role in driving sustainability at Western Health, including initiatives, such as switching to anaesthetic gases that release less carbon dioxide, cost less and are just as effective as their counterparts.

Dr McGain has also pioneered a recycling program that turns high grade clear plastic hospital items, such as facemasks, oxygen tubing and irrigation bags into furniture and garden hoses.

"I'd like to acknowledge the collaboration of all those involved in environmental sustainability at Western Health, no matter how seemingly small and insignificant; it all matters if we are going to get through this bottleneck."

He has also advocated for replacing single us medical equipment with reusable versions.

Watch A/Prof Forbes' session in the World Health Organisation (WHO) Health Pavilion on Friday November 5 at 9pm (Melbourne time).

Find more online health presentations here:

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