Sustainable Procurement in Health Care

Building an economically, ecologically and socially sustainable supply chain in health care

Sustainable Procurement stands on the three principles of environmental, social, and economic sustainability as described in Goal 12, Sustainable Production and Consumption, of the Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainable health systems are those that deliver health care based on not just the economic sustainability of their own operations but also the impacts of those services on the environment.

Some products used in health care – during its production, use or disposal – may release carcinogens, reproductive toxins, or other hazardous materials which might have the potential to harm human health and environment and, at times, may lead to irreversible damages. Supply chain emissions mostly come under Scope 3 (greenhouse gas emissions are divided into scope 1,2 and 3) which include: purchases, products, and services including transportation and distribution of products, patient transportation, employee commute and waste management. 71% of the global climate footprint is from supply chain procurement – production, packaging, transport and disposal of medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and other products.

Health care sector, by integrating Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) efforts in their strategy and purpose, can bring forth a paradigm shift in the present practices. Health systems as well as individual hospitals should work to incorporate sustainability into purchasing processes and engage with suppliers seeking innovative as well as sustainable products and services with a reduced impact on human health and environment. Sustainable procurement of goods and services may also address important social issues such as fair trade, human rights, labour rights, and gender. Indian health sector must measure, monitor and act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from throughout the health supply chain.