IHH Healthcare announces net zero and sustainability goals

KUALA LUMPUR (September 20) — Integrated healthcare provider IHH Healthcare Bhd on Tuesday (September 20) announced its targets to limit carbon emissions by 2025 and reach net-zero by 2050 while continuing to grow the business.

The company also unveiled its sustainability goals, grouped into four pillars: Patients, People, Public and Planet. The company aims to be the most trusted private healthcare provider and employer of choice in private healthcare in all of its markets by 2025 and to reach five million lives by building healthier communities by 2025.

The goals under each pillar are time-bound, science-based, and aligned with eight of the relevant United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, according to IHH.

“It is important that we act today to build a better tomorrow. That means we set ourselves concrete, short- and medium-term goals and track the progress of our action plans against these goals. We will disclose our progress when we prepare our sustainability report each year,” said Dr. Kelvin Loh, the managing director and chief executive officer of IHH.

The company, which has 80 hospitals in 10 countries, is already implementing several major programs under these pillars.

One of the programs is the global expansion of its Value Driven Outcomes (VDO) initiative to combat medical inflation. The VDO initiative aims to improve patient outcomes and care while reducing costs. Its hospitals in Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey and India are already participating in the VDO.

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“This means we measure the clinical outcomes of the procedures we perform and then track the costs of different items and procedures over time. We analyze what is actually most effective and produce results,” said Loh.

“We remove those that are not effective. In this way we can help bend the medical inflation cost curve.”

Process improvements can be made on the basis of the collected data. IHH aims to have 90% of VDO results at or above international benchmarks by 2025.

The company is also taking action to combat antibiotic resistance (AMR). AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites evolve over time and become unresponsive to medication.

This makes infections difficult to treat and increases the risk of serious illness and death. The World Health Organization has named AMR as one of the top 10 global public health threats to humanity.

“It is now one of the biggest pandemics of our lives. In fact, it’s a hidden pandemic that we don’t see. In 2019, these superbugs, or drug-resistant bacteria, actually killed five million people. That’s more than Covid-19 in 2020,” said Loh.

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The main reason for AMR is the inappropriate or overuse of antibiotics. Loh recalled a patient who died from an infection caused by a superbug just over a week after successful knee replacement surgery.

“Today it doesn’t just affect one person. A huge pandemic is developing. At IHH, we will take the lead on this issue. We will drive [initiatives] Group-wide with what we call our Antimicrobial Stewardship Program to promote the responsible use of antibiotics,” said Loh.

On the other hand, IHH is working with the Malaysian Ministry of Health to fully sponsor radiotherapy and radiosurgery for 500 cancer patients in the bottom 40% income bracket of government hospitals. These patients are being treated at the IHH hospitals in Malaysia.

“This partnership is the first phase [of the programme and will go on] for 12 months. We’ll see how the program goes. We’re really happy to be able to start with this and I think there’s room to expand this beyond the first 12 months,” said Loh.

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Under the Planet pillar, IHH aims to achieve its net-zero goal by, among other things, increasing energy efficiency and evaluating renewable energy options. The company hopes to complete its baseline carbon footprint studies across all of its operations by the end of the year.

On the other hand, IHH has committed to reducing single-use plastics in non-clinical settings by 90% by 2023, starting with 20 hospitals in Malaysia and Singapore. It was the first healthcare company to partner with the World Wildlife Fund’s Plastic ACTion initiative, which aims to reduce waste and move towards a circular economy.

Disposable plastics in the clinical area, such as e.g. B. personal protective equipment, are more difficult to remove for safety reasons.

“We draw a line to say that for what we can no longer use, we do. Let’s clear that up in all non-clinical areas. Let’s find ways in the clinical field [to achieve the goal]. Maybe there are recyclable materials that we can use and work towards. But remember, we’re in healthcare. Our mission is first and foremost to save lives and put clinical outcomes first,” said Loh.

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