Photo credit: HSE

HSE: “Climate change is one of the greatest threats to public health”

The HSE has claimed that “climate change is one of the greatest threats to public health” in a statement, as they announced their 2023-2050 Climate Action Strategy.

Ireland’s public health service said that they are committed to “high ambition” for their climate strategy this week, aiming to “reduce the environmental impact” of healthcare in Ireland.

“As Ireland’s largest public body, we in the HSE recognise the significant role we can play in tackling the climate crisis,” the service said in a statement.

“The healthcare sector is a notable contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for an estimated 5% of total emissions globally…Care is one of the HSE’s core values, and that includes demonstrating care for our environment and how we use resources as we work.”

Dr. Philip Crowley, HSE National Direct of Strategy & Research, said that the HSE wants to train its 100,000 employees to act as “climate action activists.”

“Our workforce of over 100,000 people is central to the successful development and delivery of this strategy,” he said.

“We hope to enable and support staff and service users to act as sustainability and climate action activists and lead the transformation to make the health service a more sustainable provider.”

Chief HSE Strategy Officer Dean Sullivan went on to claim that healthcare is a “key contributor” to climate change globally.

“Globally, healthcare is a key contributor in fuelling climate harm due to our need for high-energy intensive buildings, transportation footprint of employees and patients, global supply chain emissions including supplies, pharmaceuticals, devices, and food, the uses of single-use goods and more.”

The HSE has spent €27.2 million on energy retrofitting since 2019, with similar energy reforms planned going forward. They also intend to implement transport changes, such as having more electric ambulances.

The health service says it will be offering “training to proactively engage with HSE staff as agents for sustainable change encouraging a culture of environmental awareness.”

The strategy will be reviewed annually and updated regularly with new green goals and ambitions.

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