Human health is inextricably linked to the health of the planet. And organisations – whatever their size – can play a vital role in ensuring these links are understood and responded to.
Primary Care International (PCI) is a small social enterprise with big ambitions to ensure quality healthcare for people around the world. People in low- and middle-income countries are increasingly seeing the negative impact of climate change on their lives. The recent floods in Pakistan and drought in the Horn of Africa are just two devastating examples. As an organisation focused on compassionate, people-centred care we can’t ignore this.
Human health is inextricably linked to planetary health. But can we actually do anything about this as a small organisation – is it even our place? After reflections and discussions, including engaging those with considerably more knowledge in this area (thanks in particular to Renzo Guinto and Rita Issa), we have decided that, resolutely yes, we can and we will do something.
One significant action has been to launch our new organisational Sustainable Impact Principles, which include a firm commitment to planetary health, which we define as the equitable co-existence of all people alongside our planet. By making this commitment we explicitly acknowledge the inter-connected needs of people and planet, and commit to reducing ecological harm and supporting mitigation and adaptation strategies for climate-resilient healthcare.
Actions to support planetary health
Within our new commitment, PCI’s actions to support planetary health fit into three areas.
Moving towards zero harm as an organisation
This is about minimising the impact of our work on the environment. In practice, this means doing things like carefully considering if in-person support is needed when strengthening primary healthcare. If it is, then we are committed to working with colleagues (our Clinical Associates) living in that country or in the region as far as possible. Our work to develop a more diverse and globally located Associate Network is helping us to provide contextually relevant support to partners in person without the carbon footprint of flying. This is also integral to having a decolonised approach to planetary health. Our data tells us that results and impact from remote learning through our digital platform the PCI Academy is equal to face-to-face learning. So we will also continue to develop the academy as a home for all our learning programmes.