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Beyond Climate Focus and Disciplinary Myopia. The Roles and Responsibilities of Hospitals and Healthcare Professionals

By John P. Ulhøi and Benedicte P. Ulhøi


This paper calls for the need to address climate change within the concept of sustainable development, in recognition of the interrelationships between environmental, economic and social systems. So far, health- providing organizations such as hospitals have paid surprisingly little attention to the relationships between environmental change (e.g. climate change) and human health, or between hospitals (as professional organizations) and their impact on sustainable development. Although it is usually such industries as the chemical, extractive and metal industries, etc., that are associated with environmentally harmful activities, there is also an urgent need to emphasize the roles and responsibilities of hospitals and their embeddedness in a wider ecological, economic and social context. The key objective here is to discuss the relevance of sustainability and environmental management issues in a sector that until now has conveniently ignored its roles and responsibilities in relation to sustainability issues. The paper concludes that arguments based on systems theory, environment, medicine, economics and innovation strongly urge hospitals to reconsider their present roles and environmental responsibilities

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