The 2012 theme for World Environment Day on 5 June is Green Economy: Does it include you? The health care industry is a major user of energy and generator of waste. ICN is very aware that health care contributes significantly to environmental problems and, in turn, that environmental problems, especially climate change, can affect human health directly.
Health care treatment generates millions of tons of health care waste each year. This waste represents a serious risk to the environment if not properly managed and disposed. ICN believes all nurses have a duty to reduce or eliminate the negative impact of health care waste on individuals, communities and the environment. Nurses, as professionals, need to be aware of the consequences of the health care waste produced by the health sector.
ICN is also concerned that climate change can affect human health directly, such as through impacts of heat stress, death and injury due to floods and storms; and indirectly through changes in disease patterns and in the ranges and numbers of disease vectors, such as mosquitoes, water quality, air quality, and food availability and quality.
In particular, ICN is concerned that the more than three billion people, who presently live in poverty across the world, will be seriously affected by climatic changes, as they are more dependent on natural resources, more vulnerable to infectious diseases and more prone to suffer the impact of disasters such as flood, drought, fires, and storms. This will seriously impair attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.
ICN Publications on Health and the Environment:
- Health Care Waste Management – Handbook for Nurses
- Climate and Health Press Release
- Durban Declaration on Climate and Health
- Durban Global Climate and Health Call to Action
ICN position statements on:
Reports from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
- Green Economy Report: This report seeks to motivate policy makers to create the enabling conditions for increased investments in a transition to a green economy.
- 21 Issues for the 21st Century: This report delivers an international consensus and a priority list of the top emerging environmental issues alongside options for action
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