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How can healthcare facilities be climate resilient?

How can healthcare facilities be climate resilient?

Healthcare facilities across Europe are testing tools and methodologies to create climate resilience strategies and adapt their infrastructure to deal with climate change impacts. 

Over four years, the LIFE RESYSTAL project will develop a framework for climate-resilient health systems with seven pilot hospitals and two local and regional health systems.

Ensuring European healthcare facilities are prepared for the impacts of climate change requires strategic planning, changes in infrastructure, and climate resilience strategies at the regional, national, and European levels.

In April, the LIFE RESYSTAL technical partners and pilot hospitals met in Cambridge (UK) to better understand how adaptation measures at the pilot hospitals will ensure their resilience to climate change.

“[This meeting] reinforced the importance of adapting hospital infrastructure to cope with climate change. The input from the pilot hospitals will allow us to build tools and resources that can be used across Europe for a wider impact on health systems.”

– Felipe Rojas Parra, Research Associate – University of Cambridge.

Adapting healthcare to a changing climate

The pilot hospitals across Europe each face their own local challenges and opportunities to adapt to the changing climate. Through the LIFE RESYSTAL project, these hospitals are developing individual strategies for healthcare climate resilience, which they presented at the meeting in Cambridge. 

Faced with extreme summer heat and the threat of flooding, hospitals in France are installing vegetated facades and green pergolas to reduce heat stress and provide patients with protected outdoor spaces in the summer.

In Spain, hospitals face extreme rain patterns – heavy rains in winter and droughts in summer. One pilot hospital will install a rainwater collection system to stabilise the water supply and irrigate a new green space, which offers further climate resilience. 

These are just a few examples of how the hospitals will adapt their infrastructure to climate change through the project. These approaches will be evaluated, along with the lessons and challenges encountered, to develop practical support for healthcare facilities across Europe to scale up climate resilience in healthcare.

Health systems resilience

One of the biggest barriers to implementing healthcare climate resilience is how national and regional health systems prioritise climate resilience. This is also, however, one of the greatest opportunities – the LIFE RESYSTAL project works closely with two health systems to help make this a priority and ensure that healthcare providers are prepared for a changing climate. 

The negative impacts of climate change on European healthcare systems are already visible and risk public health and healthcare operations. Many countries have now recognised the importance of mitigating climate change, but it is crucial that the healthcare sector recognises the co-benefits of mitigation and resilience and implements policies that address both.

Do you want your healthcare facility to stay up to date on LIFE RESYSTAL and give input on the project’s tools and resources? Complete this form today to join the LIFE RESYSTAL scaling network.

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