Health Care Without Harm

Source: Health Care Without Harm, 2009

Our campaign began after the US Environmental Protection Agency identified medical waste incinerators as the leading source of dioxin, one of the most potent carcinogens known. In response to this serious problem, a group of 28 organizations came together to form Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) in Bolinas, California in 1996. Since then, the campaign has grown into a broad-based international coalition.

By late 2005, more than 440 organizations in 52 countries had joined HCWH. With offices in Washington, D.C., Prague, Buenos Aires and Manila, we are working in partnership with governments, non-governmental organizations and mainstream health care institutions around the world.

In just one decade, the campaign has had a significant impact on major health systems, health care workers, medical device manufacturers, group purchasing organizations and government regulators. Our successes include:

* Virtually eliminating the market for mercury-based medical equipment in the United States, and generating demand for safe alternatives.
* Closing thousands of medical waste incinerators and promoting safer technologies and waste management practices in the US and around the world.
* Creating new markets for safe and healthy products by leveraging the purchasing power of the health care industry.
* Initiating a Green Building program specifically geared to hospitals.
* Developing a Healthy Food project that is changing the way hospitals purchase food to support sustainable agricultural practices.

In the United States, HCWH has created Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E) in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the American Hospital Association and the American Nurses Association. Over 2,000 U.S. hospitals have joined this program to implement a shared agenda of toxics reduction and environmental sustainability.

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