No is a Healthy Word

In our Greening Universal Health Coverage series, we have discussed the need to clean up health system supply chains, increase investment in preventative and community services, and recentre our relationship with nature. We have been reflecting on how we transform into ecologically sustainable and resilient health systems that protect health for all.

As climate chaos escalates in the coming decade, transformation needs to happen faster and more comprehensively. Change has a price though.

We can’t keep doing the same things and expecting a different outcome. The cost of change is changing the status quo. Change means saying no.

Ban Symbol over image of Dump trucks unloading garbage over vast landfill. Smoking industrial stacks on background. Environmental pollution.No is a healthy and powerful word – it frees us to focus on what is truly important.

No to carbon powered energy; to intensive agriculture that underpins our food systems. No to health sector pollution that destroys other species in the name of human health.

Change means choosing when we say yes. Yes to:

  • initiatives that synergistically tackling climate chaos, the global burden of non-communicable diseases, and ageing.
  • initiatives that have been pollution footprinted up-front so that we are able to aim for zero or negative emissions.
  • health system investment in equitable prevention actions, rehabilitation and health promotion.

Let’s believe in a world where curative care is no longer needed because investments in ecologically sustainable and resilient health systems have been highly impactful and effective. A future where the health sector has moved beyond unsustainable growth of medical tests and procedures and pharmaceuticals that profit a few and debilitate the many. A world with equity in health and well-being, for us and the planet.

There is a wealth of evidence now, and growing, on what health systems need to do to clean and green. Let’s get to work.

Change has a price. Can we afford not to pay it?

Read more in Nossal Institute's series discussing developments in the area of health and climate change.

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Dr Gillian LĂȘ