eto pictureeto picture"Transitioning at Safe Substitutes for Ethylene Oxide as a Medical Sterilant of Devices and Supplies in Healthcare"

During the General Assembly in May 2019, the World Federation of Public Health Associations proposed the "Transitioning at Safe Substitutes for Ethylene Oxide as a Medical Sterilant of Devices and Supplies in Healthcare" Policy Resolution.

Ethylene oxide (EtO) is a chemical used to sterilize medical equipment in hospitals, healthcare facilities, and industrial settings. It is also used to fumigate items that cannot be sterilized by steam such as spices, cosmetics, and plastic devices. While over 99 percent of industrial use of EtO is for closed reaction to less volatile, explosive, and toxic derivatives such as ethylene glycol, less than 1% is used in sterilizing processes designed to kill bacterial and other living organisms. It is estimated that 50% of medical supplies worldwide primarily composed of rubber, plastic, paper, cloth, or mixed material surgical trays are sterilized in this manner. Workers, including those in health care, engaged in these activities and the surrounding communities are exposed on a regular basis.

While not compromising patient care, the orderly substation of less hazardous substances for medical supply and device sterilization is recommended where feasible and the immediate control of releases utilizing best available technologies. This policy recommends the biomonitoring of workers, communities, different exposure recommendations, and safer substitutes to be used in the healthcare setting. The policy concludes with a number of Action Steps for WFPHA to take to regulate the sterilization of medical supplies.

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"Reducing Anesthetic Gasses Climate Foot Print"

During the General Assembly in May 2019, the World Federation of Public Health Associations proposed the "Reducing Anesthetic Gasses Climate Foot Print" Policy Resolution. 

While more study is necessary, a rough estimate published by the World Bank Group finds that the healthcare sector generated 2.6 billion out of the 52 Billion metric tons of CO2e globally emitted in 2011—or 5% of global emissions. 1 The investigators took into account the contribution generated by hospital activities, research and the production and distribution of pharmaceuticals. The analysis found that hospitals by far were the largest contributors of carbon emissions. Although the findings are worrisome, they suggest that greener health care delivery will have a large positive impact on our environment.

The policy calls that the World Federation of Public Health Associations join the professional organizations of anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists and take action steps that include: lowering greenhouse gas anesthetics, reducing gas escape from the operating theater utilizing practical modifications of practice, and providing national public health associations information concerning this issue to permit institution based professional members to aid in this effort.

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The WFPHA co-signed a call initiated by the Planetary Health Alliance, the Clinicians for Planetary Health working group and World Organization of Family Doctors - WONCA. The initiative urges healthcare practitioners to get engaged in planetary health. The WFPHA supports doctors, physicians, nurses, and other clinicians protecting our health thanks to their unique capacity to understand and communicate the shifting landscape of planetary health challenges and the strategies. Read the call here

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Following the decision of the 144th Executive Board of the WHO in January 2019, it was decided to maintain us, the World Federation of Public Health Association, in official relations with the World Health Organization. WFPHA commits to continue to support and collaborate with WHO’s mission to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the most vulnerable.