Green Circle June 2020

World Environment Day 2020: Time for Nature.

The foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate that makes our planet habitable all come from nature.

Yet, these are exceptional times in which nature is sending us a message:

To care for ourselves we must care for nature. It’s time to wake up. To take notice. To raise our voices. It’s time to build back better for People and Planet.

Lets pledge to behave more responsibly for the sake of Environment and to conserve Biodiversity. Let us make some bold commitments for a Sustainable Future.

COVID-19 Medical Supplies Database

The COVID 19 outbreak has placed unprecedented demands on our health systems. Our healthcare facilities and workforce are flooded by a plethora of activities related to controlling the pandemic. It is likely that healthcare facilities could face a shortage in medical supplies that will have a deterrent effect in their services. In order to cope with COVID-19 and to tide over the shortage of any essential items in healthcare facilities, Centre for Chronic Disease Control has taken an initiative to prepare a list of State-wise database of the Manufacturers/Local suppliers for the below items:

  • Gloves
  • Masks
  • Sanitizers
  • PPEs
  • Ventilators

Disclaimer: CCDC does not endorse/take responsibility for quality or costing. This is purely an initiative for a social cause to provide ready access to information for healthcare facilities. This one-stop information database has been retrieved and compiled from various sources. Users are advised to take final procurement decisions based on usual guidelines.

Credits : Dr. Ishika Jharia, an initiative by Centre for Chronic Disease Control

Vizag gas accident and lessons for us

Sanya Prakash and Masroor Azam, Centre for Chronic Disease Control, New Delhi

In the early hours of 7th May 2020, a pungent smell blanketed the entire locality of Gopalapatanam, situated on the outskirts of the coastal town of Vishakhapatnam. Within a few hours, the people were seen rushing in panic, some carrying injured on their shoulders and unconscious bodies were lying on the streets. The reason behind this chaos was found out to be a gas leak that took place at the LG polymer plant situated near the locality. The incident happened when workers were getting the storage tank ready for operation. The storing of styrene, a chemical compound toxic to the brain and lungs is thought to be a possible cause behind the accident.

According to the figures submitted to the National Green Tribunal, the noxious leak resulted in the deaths of 12 people and 22 animals, while hundreds were injured and thousands have been reported sick. The gas leak had various impacts on the health of the people. Many victims reported irritation in the nose and throat, burning sensation in the eyes, with few complaints of loss of vision. Exposure to huge quantities of styrene gas can cause carcinogenic health impacts on the population. The NGT has rightly recommended long-term monitoring of the health of the communities residing in the vicinity of the plant.

The gas leak not only brings to the forefront the safety lapses on the part of the company but also exposes the lack of due diligence in getting the essential clearances. It was interesting to note that the plant was operating its activities in the center of a densely populated region without obtaining the necessary Environmental Clearance. Additionally, the plastic manufacturing company had expanded its operations five times between 2006 and 2018, with no requisite clearances

Source: Indian Express

Now the question arises. What is Environmental Clearance? Why is obtaining the clearance certificate important for projects? ‘Environmental Clearance (EC) is a procedure to get clearance from the government for the installation and modification (amendment) of certain projects’. It is mandatory for projects which can cause high environmental pollution. The main purpose behind EC is to assess and to abate or curtail the impact of the proposed project on the environment and people. If the project falls under the purview of the Environmental Clearance, the proponent then has to conduct Environment and Health Impact Assessment of the site to meet the regulatory requirements. The impact assessment study helps in identifying the threats which the proposed project can pose to the environment and the health of communities. The assessment, therefore, is important to manage the risks and enhance the transparency and responsibility in developing the proposed projects keeping cognizance of both the environment and the communities residing nearby the project site.

In the case of Vizag’s gas leak, the mere negligence by the company officials has apparently resulted in this grave incident. It is very unfortunate that the lessons from the disastrous incidents such as Bhopal gas tragedy 1984, Jaipur Oil gas depot fire 2009, and many others which killed thousands of people and ravaged the environment; have not been learned yet.

To avoid such accidents to occur in the future, it is necessary for us to learn the significance of environmental regulations in our respective fields. The healthcare industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors in India. In today’s time, hospital expansion has become imminent as the norms and healthcare needs are changing. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that we, as responsible healthcare professionals should abide by the guidelines prepared by the government to protect public health and safety as well environment. It is our responsibility to ensure that the management has taken requisite clearances for the projects prior to the construction phase and the design approach of our healthcare facilities shall be sensitive to environmental issues. It adds value not only for the environment and communities but for our hospitals as well. We should always remember, ‘It's better to be safe than sorry’.

Indian Leaders Call for Improvement in Rural Healthcare via Solarization of Clinics

On 30th April, close to 20 leaders from think tanks, research groups, renewable energy companies, industry associations, health care services and sustainable development organizations came together to publish an open letter calling for action, making the case for solarizing all unelectrified rural health centers in India, clearly outlining steps needed to get us to that goal.

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has highlighted several existing systemic gaps in services, especially to the rural poor. Inadequate healthcare infrastructure is one of them. Over 39,000 sub-centres (the first point of contact between primary health care system and the community) serving 230 million people in rural India lack electricity. This severely impacts their capacity to offer optimal health care to patients. Decentralized renewable energy (DRE) can play a significant role in solving this problem quickly and affordably, for less than INR 30 per person in initial capital expenditure.

The letter outlines 4 key interventions that the government can undertake in order to help alleviate the situation:

  • Expanding the programme to solarize clinics, drawing from the example of Chhattisgarh state which has successfully done this;
  • Allocating dedicated funding towards this initiative, which would amount to just 0.6% of the current 2020-21 energy and healthcare budget;
  • Ensuring long-term operations and sustainability by working through existing structures; and
  • Promoting innovation in order to develop more financially viable and energy-efficient medical equipment.

The letter has been sent to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the National Centre for Disease Control, the National Health Systems Resource Centre, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the Ministry of Power, and Niti Aayog. In addition, the letter is being sent to media houses, international development banks, private foundations and other donors, as well as global renewable energy and healthcare agencies.

Letter to G-20 Leaders: A call for Healthy Recovery

Over 40 million doctors, nurses and other health professionals from 90 countries, including many working on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic, sent a letter to G20 leaders urging them to put public health at the centre of their economic recovery packages, to help avoid future crises and make the world more resilient to them.

In the biggest health community mobilization since the run-up to the 2015 Paris climate agreement, over 350 medical groups representing health professionals — including the World Medical Association, the International Council of Nurses, the Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Federation, the World Organization of Family Doctors and the World Federation of Public Health Associations — signed the letter on behalf of their members, along with thousands of individual health professionals.

The letter asks governments to prioritise investments in public health, clean air, clean water and a stable climate in the economic stimulus packages currently under consideration. Such investments would reduce air pollution and climate-warming emissions, which damage human health, build greater resilience to future pandemics, and simultaneously create more sustainable jobs, it says.

Webinar and News from HCWH & Partners

On 23rd May, 2020, we co-hosted a webinar on "Strategies for Health Experts to Engage on Air Pollution Post Relaxation of COVID-19 Lockdown in India", with Lung Care Foundation and Healthcare Without Harm.

Articles and News on COVID-19 and Air Pollution.

How did lockdown change the Air quality Over India’s cities?

Source: Times of India

Sarath Guttikunda, Director of Urban Emissions (India), analyses how air-quality changed during the second lockdown in those Indian cities where there is at least one air-quality monitoring station operated by the Central Pollution Control Board.

Webinar: Waste Management in the Era of COVID-19

On 6th June 2020, Centre for Chronic Disease Control co-hosted a webinar titled “Waste Management in the Era of CoVID-19, with Centre for Environmental Health, Public Health Foundation of India, Heath and Environment Leadership Platform and Health Care Without Harm.

The webinar highlighted key challenges while handling municipal solid waste and healthcare waste during CoVID-19. It emphasized on the strategies to achieve appropriate waste management during the current pandemic. The webinar also served as a platform to address queries of healthcare establishments as well as the general public regarding CoVID-19 waste management.

The Expert panel :

  • Ruth Stringer: International Science and Policy Director, Health Care Without Harm
  • Dr. Shyamala Mani: Consultant, Centre For Environmental Health
  • Dr. Malini Capoor: Professor Microbiology, Incharge Biomedical Waste Unit, VMMC and Safdarjung Hospita
  • Youthika Puri: Scientist D, Biomedical Waste Management, Central Pollution Control Board
  • Dr Ramesh Kumar: Medical Officer of Health and Director (Public Health), New Delhi Municipal Corporation

Expert Quotes:

“Healthcare workers must be adequately trained, protected and must be provided with routine and free of charge immunization against Tetanus, AIDS, and Hepatitis” - Ruth Stringer

“Biomedical waste management is an important public health concern and it is not only our legal responsibility but also social responsibility. Our BMWM solutions must be sustainable not only for the current generation but for the generations to come.” - Dr. Malini Capoor

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HELP was established by Public Health Foundation of India and Centre for Chronic Disease Control with Health Care Without Harm. Photo credits: various artists from Pexels: Free Stock Photos, G Satyanarayana, (EPS). Copyright © Health and Environment Leadership Platform, 2020. All rights reserved.

Created By
Masroor Azam


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