In their daily operations, hospitals consume enormous amounts of energy and water. They also generate a large amount of solid and hazardous waste that’s difficult to dispose of safely.
Sustainable healthcare in hospitals and healthcare institutions is about taking steps toward reducing their carbon footprint and any negative impact they create on the environment.
Examining sustainability in healthcare from the context of Saudi Arabia reveals that the Kingdom is taking small yet demonstrable steps toward sustainable healthcare.
Here are some notable developments in the Kingdom pertaining to this area:
Efforts toward sustainable water consumption
Considering Saudi Arabia is a desert land, they need to make a lot of effort to conserve water. Hospitals use massive amounts of water for various reasons — to keep surroundings clean, maintain hygiene, etc.
Although specific information is sparse, several hospitals are working towards conserving water. For example, hospitals benefit from installing low-flow faucets in bathrooms to reduce and reuse water consumption.
Telemedicine to reduce energy consumption
Saudi Arabia has increasingly begun to rely on telemedicine post-pandemic. This has reduced the need for patients to commute to hospitals, thereby reducing carbon emissions. Moreover, it’s also seen that telemedicine produces minimal carbon emissions in comparison.
According to scientific studies, one can save between 0.70-372 kg CO2e per telemedicine consultation, considerably reducing carbon footprint.
Focus on solar energy to reduce carbon footprint
Since Saudi Arabia is blessed with year-round sunshine, it’s a great location to harvest solar energy. Using solar power to electrify hospitals reduces the country's dependence on fossil fuels, making it easy to reduce its carbon footprint. However, this trend is yet to catch up in full swing and requires more governmental assistance to bear the best results in the Kingdom.
Positive public perception toward sustainable waste disposal
Saudi Arabia is a high-income country that needs to do more to discard hazardous medical waste safely. But thankfully, there is growing awareness about responsibly managing solid and hospital waste.
According to a study, 74 per cent of participants in a survey revealed they knew how to dispose of used masks and gloves correctly, while another 76 per cent displayed positive attitudes toward waste management. This shows that people in the Kingdom are ready to adopt techniques that help process hazardous waste safely and sustainably.
The future of sustainable healthcare in Saudi Arabia looks optimistic
The trends we discussed show a growing awareness of making healthcare sustainable. Saudi Arabia is slowly taking measures to implement renewable energy use, waste management, water conservation, and green building. Of course, the country can do much more to make its healthcare more sustainable, but this will require policy changes and is something we should see in the future.