Geneva, Switzerland, 10 November 2021 – The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has published an article entitled “Decarbonising healthcare in low- and middle-income countries: potential pathways to net zero emissions”, in which researchers have calculated the global carbon footprint of health care as equivalent to about 4-5 percent of total global emissions – and likely to grow. For 24 low-to-middle-income countries (LMICs), BMJ says, “achieving universal health coverage could result in an additional 382 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) a year” – which would increase the global carbon footprint of health care by about 16 percent.
It goes on to say that the focus has been on reducing emissions in high-income countries and adaptation in low- and middle-income countries. However, the Aga Khan Health Services and Aga Khan University have proven that LMICs can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions – and save money at it. The article in BMJ, which drew on data provided by the Aga Khan Development Network, has outlined that LMICs can do their part in reducing carbon intensive activity even while pushing towards UN sustainable development target 3.8 of achieving universal health coverage.
The BMJ article continues, “measures to mitigate carbon emissions can also deliver cost savings (e.g., energy efficiency), short-term public health benefits (e.g., reduced air pollution) and timely access to care (e.g., telehealth)”. In a win-win situation, integrating carbon reduction into the delivery of universal health coverage “could leverage greater gains in health and healthcare coverage in LMICs”.
For more information please contact:
Dr Fawzia Rasheed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or read the full article in the British Medical Journal.
Also on 10 November, a related discussion panel "Building back greener: what is healthcare's role in creating a sustainable future?" will be hosted by BMJ Editor Fiona Godlee at 4pm UK time. Register here.