Portugal’s healthcare leaders commit to cycling as a means of active travel

Hospital leaders across Portugal are endorsing a pledge entitled ‘Cycling for All’. It represents a commitment to promote cycling as a means of active travel to the hospital workforce and to remove barriers to active travel, such as advocating for safer walking and cycling paths.

The public and private healthcare sector of Portugal, represented by three Portuguese hospital associations, is championing the initiative. Associação Portuguesa para o Desenvolvimento Hospitalar (APDH),  Associação Portuguesa de Administradores Hospitalares (APAH), and  Associação Portuguesa de Hospitalização Privada (APHP) are the members of the organizing consortium of the 2023 World Hospital Congress, held in Portugal this week

They shared a few words on why the Cycling for All initiative is a key opportunity for healthcare leaders to promote the wellbeing of their staff and the environment.

“Switching to more sustainable mobility, which naturally includes cycling, can drastically reduce our carbon footprint. As well as mitigating environmental impact, cycling promotes physical activity, benefiting citizens’ health. Embracing these solutions is crucial for a healthier and more sustainable future.”

– Prof Carlos Pereira Alves, President of APDH, Xavier Barreto, President of APAH, and Óscar Gaspar, President of APHP.

Dr Campbell-Lendrum, WHO Health and Climate Lead, shared the following endorsement of active travel in a recent video message:

“In all of medicine, it is hard to find a treatment that can confer this degree and scope of benefits. If walking or cycling were a pill we’d probably want to prescribe it to almost everybody!

Health professionals are some of the most trusted members of our societies, which is why it is so important to walk the talk on active travel for our own health, our communities, and our planet.” 

The president of the IPO Lisboa Hospital, Eva Falcão, shared why she did not hesitate to endorse the pledge:

“IPO Lisboa’s strategy for the next three years focuses on sustainability in all its dimensions. Therefore, we find these initiatives to be very important since promoting active travel has many proven benefits: it is a healthy way to commute and also has a positive impact on the environment.”

The national cycling federation, Federação Portuguesa de Ciclismo (FPC), a cycling body established 30 years before the first World Hospital Congress and a member of Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is proud to endorse the initiative and to share guidance with hospitals on how to best introduce cycling as active travel into any workplace. Sandro Araújo, Vice-President of the Portuguese Cycling Federation and member of UCI’s “Cycling for All and Sustainable Cycling” Commission, shared:

“FPC is pleased to be associated with this pioneering initiative, which is a milestone in promoting the practice of everyday cycling among professionals who work in hospitals. We want to encourage more and more companies and workers to take up this cause, they too can be everyday champions!

Cycling organizations, like FPC, stand ready to support with guidance and training programmes to make sure anyone can transition to active travel in a safe and enjoyable way!”

The International Hospital Federation (IHF) community is committed to addressing climate change as an integral part of healthcare delivery as demonstrated by the endorsement of the IHF Statement on Sustainability at the 45th World Hospital Congress in Dubai [see statement].

IHF CEO, Ronald Lavater shared why he supports the initiative:

“Promoting cycling to reduce carbon emissions linked to transport is a no-regret measure to introduce in any hospital or healthcare setting. Hospitals are large employers, in many cities they are the largest employer. Initiatives that engage and support the wellbeing of the healthcare workforce, have a wide impact beyond the walls of a healthcare structure.

This is why at the 46th World Hospital Congress in Lisbon, we choose to promote cycling as a means of active travel as a step on our journey towards environmental sustainability because resilient and sustainable healthcare improves health outcomes for all.“

In early 2022, the IHF established the Geneva Sustainability Centre to support hospitals and healthcare services in addressing the sustainability challenges of today and tomorrow. The Geneva Sustainability Centre builds on a common will shared by the IHF and its members to make sustainability a priority by increasing global awareness of the responsibility of hospitals to integrate sustainability into every aspect of healthcare delivery.

The Geneva Sustainability Centre’s Executive Director, Sonia Roschnik, added:

“Active travel can be a route for hospitals to address sustainability. Promoting active travel engages staff, encourages good health, and sets an example for all while addressing congestion and air pollution. It is an excellent way to contribute to more resilient and sustainable healthcare.

We have been witnessing the positive example set by hospitals across the IHF membership. It is inspiring to us all, as we continue on the path to net zero healthcare.”

To follow further developments at the 46th World Hospital Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, visit: https://worldhospitalcongress.org.

Written by:

IHF Secretariat

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