Healthcare companies in the Middle East need to work towards developing a resilient ecosystem to drive change as the region takes centre stage in tackling climate change over the next two years.
This year’s COP27 that took place in Egypt to be followed by COP28 in the UAE in 2023 requires businesses to commit to the environment and sustainability through action, not just words. It might surprise some that the healthcare sector, which encompasses everything from hospitals to pharmaceutical manufacturing, is responsible for approximately four percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
In a recently published article in regional media, Pelin Incesu, AstraZeneca’s area Vice President for the Middle East and Africa said that if the healthcare sector were a country, it would be the fifth-largest emitter on the planet.
“For the world to achieve the internationally agreed targets to limit global temperature increases, the healthcare sector must recognise its contributions and play a key role in driving down emissions,” she said.
She also said that AstraZeneca is taking bold steps to reduce its carbon footprint through a US$1 billion investment on the Ambition Zero Carbon programme that aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gases and build resilience across the company’s supply chains. She said that as a biotechnology company, Astra Zeneca has aligned the climate strategy with the latest science.
Dr. Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman and Managing Director of Aster DM Healthcare said, “Climate change is impacting humanity and leading us to a precipice through global warming. The public, especially the younger generation, are becoming more and more aware and active in protecting the environment. However, there is requirement for large corporate players including healthcare providers to get actively involved in this as it is our duty towards the future generations.
“Many major corporates have set net-zero targets and have implemented numerous initiatives. While the implementation of some strategies might be time consuming and won’t have an immediate effect, as responsible organisations we must lead by example to ensure that we enable a sustainable future for planet.
“At Aster, we are raising awareness among internal and external stakeholders to maintain a healthy balance to protect and nurture the world. As a responsible and socially committed healthcare provider with the highest level of ESG rating, our endeavour is to adopt best practices for achieving sustainability. This is achieved through partnerships and collaborations that will reduce our environmental footprint. Moreover, Aster has integrated 11 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) into its ESG policies which includes Climate Action.”
Dr. Azad Moopen
Financial hurdles could be the biggest barriers for healthcare companies to adopt a sustainable ecosystem, therefore, the healthcare industry must find ways to better use existing resources to deliver care to more patients. Digital and remote healthcare technology is positively contributing to environmental change by removing the ‘care miles’ of patients travelling to and from healthcare facilities, as well as reducing the need for single-use personal protective equipment that has a high global warming potential.
Asma Ali Zain is an independent journalist and a regular contributor at Omnia Health.