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Vietnam Today

Vietnam to have first Sustainable Health in Procurement Project

Released at: 13:42, 25/05/2019

Vietnam to have first Sustainable Health in Procurement Project

Photo: UNDP

Inception workshop held in Hanoi by UNDP and Health Care Without Harm.

by Nghi Do

By adopting sustainable procurement policies, strategies, and practices, health systems, governments, and international development actors can be drivers of a significant shift towards inclusive, green economies by requiring products and services that are compliant with environmental and social standards throughout their lifecycle.

This was stated at an orientation and inception workshop on May 24 in Hanoi, held by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in cooperation with Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), for the first Sustainable Health in Procurement Project (SHiPP) in Vietnam.

The workshop focused on introducing the project’s importance and expected outcomes. It offered an opportunity for participants and facilitators to explore the impacts of health procurement on the environment, examine sustainable health procurement policies and processes in the public and private sector, and discuss the potential technical support to integrate sustainability into procurement across all stages of the supply chain and procurement processes for medicines, health commodities, and health facilities in Vietnam.

“Special attention has also been given to the link between medical procurement, health service provision, and environmental impacts,” Deputy Minister of Ministry of Health Nguyen Truong Son said at the workshop. “Sustainable public procurement applications will contribute to improving the quality of production, the effective and sustainable use of natural resources, and security, safety, and equality in society.”

Sustainable procurement of health products and services can drive positive health impacts for patients, communities, and the environment. Public procurement has been identified as a key entry point for promoting more sustainable production and consumption patterns. The role of procurement in influencing the environmental impact of health sector operations has been acknowledged, and sustainable procurement practices have the capacity to reduce a significant proportion of the health sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. For example, supply chain-related emissions account for at least 65 per cent of the carbon footprint of the UK’s National Health Service and 82 per cent of the carbon footprint of the UNDP-administered Global Fund for HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis projects in Tajikistan.

“Greening health procurement is key to sustainable production and waste management within the health sector,” said Ms. Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam. “The project aims to promote sustainability in the health sector supply chain to improve human health and reduce greenhouse gases, resource depletion, and chemical pollution.”

Attending the workshop were representatives from Ministry of Health, the UN Interagency on Sustainable Procurement in the Health Sector (SPHS) member agencies, the UN Global Compact Local Network Vietnam, private sector actors in the pharmaceutical industry, non-government organizations, and research institutions.

The health sector plays a vital role in ensuring human health and well-being but can negatively impact human and environmental health. Patients, healthcare workers, and the general public are constantly exposed to the environmental and health risks during the implementation of health programs.

For example, pharmaceutical manufacturing residues in the environment are a major concern. The poorly-regulated discharge of untreated wastewater into the environment causes the spread of antibiotic ingredients, which eventually lead to serious health problems, such as antimicrobial resistance and environmental degradation. Moreover, this improper treatment of wastewater threatens wildlife and causes the death of animals. Toxic releases such as PVC, dioxin, and mercury are another threat to public health and planetary health, and they can be found in many medical devices.

Funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), and implemented in partnership with HCWH, SHiPP aims to work in a group of lower and middle-income countries to develop and pilot a set of sustainable health procurement practices and policies that synergize with the UN informal interagency initiative on Sustainable Procurement in the Health Sector. The project is being implemented in Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Moldova, Ukraine, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia, and Vietnam.

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