Dr Robin T Cotton asks some difficult questions centred around the concept of primum non nocere (first, do no harm), perhaps one of the best known promises of doctors and medical practitioners everywhere. In his article in The Laryngoscope he suggest that the medical community as a whole have for too long been either unaware or indifferent to the very real harm that environmental irresponsibility can cause – to the earth, and therefore its people. He explains that this paradox raises two critical questions, one of which is:

What role should we, as physicians, play in effecting change?

His article is well worth a read for any physician looking for, as Dr Cotton describes it, a “going-green primer”. He covers actions that doctors can take in areas such as Medical Waste and Iatrogenic Pollution, Waste Minimisation, Energy Overconsumption and Climate Change. In discussing the barriers to change, he calls for developing environmental awareness and responsibility in student doctors by adding this important topic to their curriculum, suggests that doctors must work together towards sustainable hospital practices and “must persist in efforts to have our respective institutions affiliate with existing local, national and international healthcare environmental alliances.” He also says:

We cannot focus on the progress we have achieved in our speciality, and concurrently ignore and contribute to practices that negatively impact the health of our patients, the public and the environment. Our personal integrity depends on our ability to strike an ethical balance between a commitment to patient care and environmental concerns. 


My hope is that this information elicits interest in expanding our professional role as healers, and plants the seeds of activism in environmental conservation both within and beyond the walls of our hospitals….I urge you all to have the wisdom to become involved in this global challenge. It is the right thing to do. 

Read the full article: Eco-Conservation and Healthcare Ethics: A Call to Action

For more information on how you, as a medical professional, can contribute to Protected Areas as part of a solution to this global challenge, please contact us.