The country's premier medical facility AIIMS should move away from using conventional energy that is responsible for polluting environment and adding green house gases, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said today as he resolved to convert the hospital into a "green hospital". Vardhan said that his plan for 'Green AIIMS' is based on the government's determination to fight climate change.
"Healthcare institutions should strive to reduce their energy consumption and maximise use of solar energy and other similar natural resources," he said, addressing a gathering on the occasion of World Environment Day. Vardhan said that the new-look AIIMS will have water conservation and waste water recycling systems in place.
"There must be regular energy audits and a phased renewal plan must be developed with a view to making the buildings in the complex more energy efficient. "Its entire waste generation, including medical waste generation must be brought down by an approach of reduce, reuse and recycling of waste. A scavenging system to deal with nitrous oxide and other waste anaesthetic gases is also the need of the hour," he said.
The Minister said that plantation around the hospital should also be done with a view to capture particulate pollutants to prevent harm to hospitalised patients.
Stating that many buildings are being awarded for their efforts for energy conservation but hospitals are never seen in the list, Vardhan asked, "Why should not hospitals try to get such awards sending out positive signals and becoming the brand ambassadors for environmental protection and preservation adding to the improved health of community." "The unattractive facade of government hospitals should become a thing of past. We do not have to be ostentatious to do that. Beginning with AIIMS-New Delhi, I want all public hospitals to resonate with inclusivity and enlightenment," Vardhan said.
Expressing concern over insufficient data available with health authorities in India on the adverse health outcomes, Vardhan said that movement of masses and a sizable population of migrant labourers make this mission difficult without inter-sectoral and inter-state coordination. "My idea is to create an aggressive data collection system and research organisation for the health sector which would preferably be autonomous. I will take up this matter with the Prime Minister soon and involve the state governments in the endeavour," Vardhan added.
He further said that a Management Information System using IT tools would be developed for the benefit of central and state health departments. "The United Nations, WHO and all international institutions have warned of the dangerous link between deteriorating environment and disease outcomes. We also need to undertake a massive capacity building exercise to create a pool of trained manpower to achieve this mission," he said.
Vardhan further said that the country's infrastructure is inadequate to fight the impact of environmental degradation and consequent adverse health outcomes and the government has therefore decided to focus on expanding the human resource base.
"The country's present health infrastructure is unfortunately inadequate at present. We need to quickly develop more trained health workers for combating the effects of climate change on human health," Vardhan said.
The participation and cooperation of the states would be crucial because there are numerous possibilities of synergy, he noted. "What an irony it is that Delhi, a city regarded by WHO as having high levels of air pollution, has only one public hospital with such a specialised centre. We must have more such centres not only in Delhi but all over the country," he said.
Vardhan also announced a week-long sanitation drive in government hospitals run by the Central Government in the capital and said that he will soon visit these hospitals to monitor it. The Health Minister also announced plans for setting up a network of capacity building institutions all over India modelled on the line of All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Kolkata, and the Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health in Delhi's Maulana Azad Medical College.