Grey’s Hospital goes ‘green’

2016-09-07 06:00
PHOTO: supplied  Grey’s Hospital staff plant trees around the hospital building, promoting their ‘green’ status.

PHOTO: supplied Grey’s Hospital staff plant trees around the hospital building, promoting their ‘green’ status.

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GREY’S Hospital in Pietermaritzburg became the KZN sixth hospital to join the “green” movement by making the hospital more eco-friendly.

Other hospitals include Edendale, King Edward, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central, Ngwelezana and Port Shepstone.

The hospital joined the internationally recognised Global Green and Healthy Hospitals initiative, which serves to create a global network of hospitals and health systems seeking to improve environmental performance.

Luqman Yesufu from groundWorks and Global Green and Healthy Hospitals said hospitals generate significant environmental health impacts both upstream and downstream from service delivery, through the natural resources and products they consume, as well as through waste they generate.

The Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) initiative is built on 10 interconnected green goals which if implemented will have a tremendous impact on the environment as a whole. The ten interconnected goals include; leadership, waste, chemicals, building, pharmaceuticals, energy, purchasing, water, food and transportation. During hospital operation, if these interconnected goals are not done in a sustainable way then hospitals will be a source of harm rather than a place of healing.

Speaking to Maritzburg Fever, Doctor Ben Bilenge CEO of Grey’s Hospital, said that the decision to join the initiative was taken with two goals in mind - for waste management, to protect the public health by reducing the volume of toxic waste produced by the hospital and energy saving.

Bilenge said that the hospital will engage in activities to become more transparent in all aspects of waste management by conducting feedback sessions on the volume of generated anatomical, infectious, sharps, pharmaceutical, cytotoxic and general waste produced.

“This allows visual representation of the quantity of waste we are sending to the landfills and in turn we are contributing to environment and climate change. We have identified our high turnover areas that are generating large quantities of infectious waste and have put measures in place how to reduce this production,” he said.

Other activities include signage on bins around the hospital to encourage correct waste segregation by both personnel and patients, e-waste collection of all types of batteries are being centralised, printer toners are exchanged on a one-to- one basis and Green Office collects toners for recycling.

Bilenge said that overall the hospital is simply becoming more aware of their use of energy and waste disposal so activities from as simple as switching off lights in areas that are not in use to eradicating all mercury containing items.

“We want to reduce the environmental impact and carbon footprint of our facilities and operations. In doing so, we will be promoting the health and well being of patients, staff and community members - both inside and outside the walls of our facilities,” said Bilenge.

Yesufu said hospitals have an enormous environmental footprint.

“Not only do they produce tons of waste, they require large amounts of energy, often from fossil fuel-based electricity, such as coal and oil, to maintain and run its operations.

“Majority of the waste generated from the hospital often end up in an incinerator or landfill. These incinerators when in operation release toxic cancerous gases such as dioxins and furans into the atmosphere, thereby poisoning the very same people it serves who often end up as patients.

“The landfill sites are often plagued by large amounts of methane gases which is a greenhouse gas. Increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere results in global warming and climate change,” he said.

For more information about the GGHH initiative visit

Why going green is important

Going green is important because our climate is changing with significant threats to our health as the World Health Organisation estimates that there are 150 000 deaths a year due to climate change of which 85% are young children. Health-care needs to respond to this by being prepared and efficient in providing healthcare services. Furthermore, health-care needs to “clean its own house” and lead by example by joining this movement of GGHH members that have recognised the connection between human health and the environment by demonstrating this understanding through its governance, strategy and operation

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