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World Health Day 2022: Our planet, our health

Rachel Soper
April 7, 2022

7th April 2022 is World Health Day, and the theme for 2022 is ‘Our planet, our health’. Through the campaign, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is urging governments and the public to share the steps they are taking to protect the planet, prioritise our health and promote well-being in our societies.

Why is the climate crisis a health crisis?

According to WHO:

 - Nitrogen dioxide pollution can aggravate respiratory diseases, particularly asthma. Well planned public transport systems, including safe walking and cycling, can improve air quality, mitigate climate change, and deliver additional health gains.

- Rising temperatures and floods caused by climate change will place an additional 2 billion people at risk of dengue infection.

- 829,000 people die from diarrhoeal disease every year caused by polluted water and poor sanitation.

- Air pollution kills 13 people every minute due to lung cancer, heart disease and stroke.

You can read more about the impacts of the climate crisis on public health on the World Health Day website.

Green Impact supporting healthcare to reach net-zero

With the climate crisis affecting physical and mental health, reducing the negative environmental impact of healthcare can tangibly improve health outcomes for future generations. Our Green Impact programme supports organisations, including healthcare organisations like GP/dental practices and NHS Trusts across the UK to strategically embed sustainability within their departments and teams. The programme engages staff from all areas of operations to understand the sustainability impacts of their role and consider how they can take action to progress a more sustainable healthcare system.

What has been achieved by Green Impact for Health so far?

Since 2014, we have seen more than 35,000 positive sustainability and wellbeing actions completed in healthcare settings through Green Impact. Our Green Impact for Health programme, which offers a free online toolkit and awards for GP practices across the UK, has more than 1,200 practices registered. This year, we launched a pilot with Public Health Wales to embed sustainability across the whole of primary and secondary care in Wales, with specific actions for practices ranging from optometrists and pharmacists, to GPs and dentists.

With NHS Trusts currently publishing Green Plans, we hope to see even more positive and ambitious action happening over the coming months and years. As an example, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust released their Green Plan in January 2022, and included Green Impact as an opportunity for staff to make both an individual and collective difference and help realise the Trust’s Green Plan ambitions.

Green Impact is a powerful tool supporting NHS Trusts and public health organisations with their Green Plans by informing and engaging staff, giving them tangible and meaningful ways in which to contribute towards our shared vision for sustainability. This World Health Day, we want to thank all those who are taking action for sustainability through Green Impact. Together we are all part of the journey to create a #HealthierTomorrow for people and the planet.

If you would like to find out more about Green Impact, please contact Rachel Soper, Senior project manager for engagement.