Another year is coming to a close; when I take a step back and reflect on what I see, it is now clearer than ever before that sustainability – in the broadest sense of the word – should be our main concern.
In the short perspective, sustainable healthcare delivery is threatened in many places around the world by violent conflicts. My deepest sympathy goes to the people in Gaza, Ukraine and elsewhere who suffer because of conflicts that ought to be resolved by peaceful means. (Check out our statement on the ongoing violence in Palestine and Israel here)
In the short and medium perspective, staff shortage is a serious concern that cannot be met just by spending more money. In the medium and not-so-long perspective, the climate crisis will become acute. Actions to alleviate the crisis cannot wait until the medium perspective, though. Healthcare is responsible for a significant proportion of carbon emissions, through operations and not the least through its supply chain.
We don’t know when, but we can be certain that at some point, we will have to face the next pandemic; while we can learn a lot from how the COVID-19 pandemic was managed, the next pandemic may not mimic the previous. We may see new agents, spread of agents to new locations because of climate changes, or loss of control of known agents because of resistance to antibiotics.
Despite all of these challenges that we should neither deny nor underestimate, I do not want to take a gloomy perspective. After all, there are plenty of statistics to show us that more people live under better conditions today than probably at any time in the history of mankind. And while we face formidable challenges, we also have much knowledge that will show how the challenges can be met, without sacrificing the opportunity for every person to live an enjoyable and healthy life.
It is important that all of you contribute to promoting the understanding that we must do something and that we can do something.
In line with ISQua’s mission, we will give growth and give voice to the knowledge needed, through and beyond our network, so that you can turn it into the action we all need to take. None of us can solve the problems on our own, but if we all sit back saying we can do so little, so what does it matter, nothing will happen.
The next annual ISQua conference 24-27 September 2024 in Istanbul under the theme “Health for people and planet: Building bridges to a sustainable future” is one place where we will meet to share knowledge and create commitment. Our call for papers is open until 9th February, If you haven't submitted your abstract yet, there's still time to contribute your expertise and be part of the global conversation shaping the future of healthcare quality. Submit your abstracts here.
The upcoming ISQua Green Paper on Sustainable Health Care and Quality Improvement will guide this movement. My sincere thanks to the workgroup led by Hans C. Ossebaard and Adi Vyas who are preparing this important paper.
The ISQua Fellowship is growing rapidly, now approaching 2000 learners, and we can accommodate many more. In addition to the courses we already offer on various aspects of quality and safety in healthcare, we will launch a course on sustainability in 2024.
The 6th edition of the “Guidelines and Principles for the Development of Health and Social Care Standards” will be published in 2024; they will include requirements that accreditation standards for healthcare in the future should address sustainability. Our deeply felt thanks to those who helped us to develop these new requirements, including the Geneva Sustainability Centre, established by the International Hospital Federation.
All the highly appreciated members of the staff at the ISQua office and I are dedicating our time to ISQua and its mission, but without you: Members, Partners, Experts, Surveyors, and Academicians, we will not be able to succeed. We thank you for your support during 2023 and we look forward to working for you and with you in 2024. May the new year bring hope, progress, and joy in addition to the challenges and issues, we must also be prepared for.