Diabetes and global health: Mitigating the impact of climate change

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One of the sessions at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes’ annual meeting in Stockholm, Sweden (19-23 septembre) will focus on ways to reduce the environmental impact of diabetes care. Dr. Fiona Adshead (Chair, Sustainable Healthcare Coalition Newton Abbot, UK) will present the presentation.

Dr. Adshead states that the impact of climate changes has been evident in recent months with flooding, fires and heatwaves making headlines. “The human cost of climate change is enormous, but the stark reality is that it is man-made. This crisis must be solved by transformative change. To achieve a net zero economy, each country must undergo a green transition. Every sector must act, and healthcare should play its part.”

Healthcare’s core value of “First do no harm” is the foundation of healthcare. However, a side effect of its delivery is its contribution to global warming. Global net greenhouse gas emissions are 4.4% of the total healthcare sector. Any national green transition must also include a net zero-health system.

The key to achieving a net zero healthcare system is clinical transformation. This is how care is delivered that not just improves health outcomes but also reduces the environmental impact. It is essential that every decision regarding health care must take into account the environmental impact.

Dr. Adshead discusses:

  • How the UK’s National Health Service has become a net-zero healthcare system and how this can be seen in a global context.
  • The NHS created the Sustainable Healthcare Coalition to bring together companies to address the evidence that medical devices and pharmaceutical products were responsible for a large portion of the NHS’s carbon emissions.
  • This was possible because the group shared data and expertise and was able create the first GHG lifecycle assessment guidance that explains how to measure the carbon footprint for medical devices and pharmaceuticals. One of the most important building blocks for assessing environmental impact is the ability to measure it.
  • A case study will highlight the opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of diabetes care. It will focus on Novo Nordisk, a major manufacturer and distributor of diabetes and obesity medications. This case study shows how care pathways assessment methodology guidance was applied to diabetes through “take back” schemes as well as the emerging area of reducing clinical trial impact.
  • How many international collaborations are helping to accelerate action and bring together stakeholders for transformative changes.

Dr. Adshead believes that addressing the environment impact of diabetes care will be integral to the transition to tomorrow’s net zero health system. Today’s tools and collaborations can help make this possible.

She states, “Every health care decision must reduce environmental impact as much as improve health outcomes. We know from case studies how reducing environmental impacts can improve health outcomes.”

“Clinical trials are crucial for developing new treatments. Globally, we estimate that they generate around 100 million tonnes CO2About the same amount as the whole country of Belgium in terms of emissions per annum. We believe reducing their impact is crucial and are working on a solution. We are looking at ways to reduce the travel footprint associated clinical trials.

Dr. Adshead’s presentation will be part of the session “The heat has on! Climate change and diabetes on September 21, 2022.

Reducing the environmental impact of global health aid is essential, expert says

Diabetes and global health: Mitigating climate change’s impact (2022, September 20).
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