'Green hospitals' in Saudi Arabia a healthy idea |
Arab News - 19 June, 2012
Achieving sustainable health care infrastructure requires big challenges to unify ecological and economical demands of health care sector, says Prof Tawfik Khoja, director general of the Executive Board of the GCC Health Ministers’ Council.
He was speaking at the MEDEXPO forum in Jeddah. More than 30 speakers from the Saudi medical sector took part in the event.
Khoja, who presented a session titled ‘Creating the Blueprint for a Sustainable Healthcare Infrastructure’, pointed out that more modern health care facilities are required in the Kingdom.
“Remodeling hospitals to be green is a main requirement of new age,” said Khoja.
He said the Kingdom’s medical infrastructure would require more improvement to meet all international standards.
“To develop Saudi health care sector, we need to shift our hospitals to green hospitals, for optimizing efficiency and increasing quality,” he added.
Khoja called for more focus on issues such as the building design, nature of operations and the cost of service.
“Green hospitals program not only boosts efficiency but also significantly improves quality and environmental protection. To have the best health care infrastructure, we should ensure three elements: green, efficiency, and quality,” she said.
Medical buildings should have both environmental and customer/patient value, he said.
Khoja highlighted four elements that required more attention when building hospitals within the coming years.
“These elements are, smart location and linkage (SLL), neighborhood patterns and design (NPD), green infrastructure and building (GIB), and innovation,” he said.
He also generated interest on an important question during the session. It was: Why an environmental management system is important for health care facilities?
Then he added: “Such a system can identify and reduce environmental pollution, reduce energy, water and waste disposal costs, control the handling of hazardous substances, limit air emissions, and improve the quality of patient care and reducing risks.”
Khoja said trust is the cornerstone of a hospital’s public image. Unique hospitals required medical activities and practices, environmental regulations plus industry competition and culture.
“Long-term planning is essential, where clinicians have to be involved. We also need building environments that respond to veteran, family, and staff needs. In addition, the therapeutic concept needs to be introduced. We also need to invest widely in the existing estate,” he said.
Omar Al-Sharqi, assistant professor of health service management, head of health service and hospitals administration department, faculty of economy and administration at King Abdul-Aziz University, said the Kingdom’s government recognized the need for more investments in the health care sector and had allocated SR 8 billion to bolster it.
“The government responded to the growth of residents of Saudi Arabia and the increasing demands for perfect health care. To implement this strategy, the Kingdom’s government will support both private and government sector to collaborate for operating new hospitals and health care services. New criteria will be followed for the establishment of health facilities,” he said.
A panel discussion was also held during Medexpo titled ‘Partnering to Transform the Kingdom’s Healthcare Landscape.
Dr. Sultan Baharbi, founder and chairman of Ebram investments, former CEO of King Faisal Specialist Hospital for Research and Studies, said: “Today, so many challenges are facing the Kingdom’s health care sector. In the modern age, the health care sector needs increased productivity in addition to new techniques that satisfy the needs of customers.”
Customers are demanding better standards these days, he said. “Customers’ expectations in terms of the health sector are much higher than what we are providing,” he added.