Image: ©ANP

Towards sustainable devices in healthcare

The demand for care is growing, and with it the use of devices such as wound management supplies, gloves, surgical instruments and diagnostic tests. More and more of these products are single use. Recent years have witnessed a growing awareness that healthcare needs to become more sustainable. The Minister for Medical Care and Sport asked the Health Council of the Netherlands how efforts to make the use of devices more sustainable can be accelerated.

The Council believes it is important for sustainability to be made a standard of good care alongside safety, efficiency, effectiveness and client focus. Among other things, this means incorporating sustainability into the strategic vision of healthcare institutions, into medical guidelines and into the training of healthcare employees. Changes are also needed throughout the chain of design, production, use and waste processing of devices. Areas in which gains can be made include improving the sustainability of the product range, the reuse of materials, and a more conscious approach to devices. Interministerial cooperation is vital in order to initiate the transition to circular healthcare. Sustainability requirements must also be enshrined in national and European laws and regulations. The Council believes that the Netherlands should take on a leading role in this process. Finally, the Council recommends that sustainable innovation be encouraged by more effectively combining knowledge from the public and private sectors, and by promoting research into topics such as the environmental impact of devices.