Published: 10 March 2022
The NIHR has underlined its continued commitment to tackling climate change by launching major research calls into delivering more sustainable health and care systems at home and abroad.
At COP26 in November 2021, the Chief Executive Officer for the NIHR, Professor Lucy Chappell, announced a package of measures to support the delivery of a net zero health and social care system, both domestically and further afield.
Climate change poses a major challenge to public health in the UK and globally, which risks exacerbating health inequalities. Research has indicated that the UK is the 17th largest global emitter of greenhouse gases per capita, and health services contribute to around 4-5% of total UK carbon emissions. While significant progress is already being made, with studies showing that the NHS has reduced its emissions by around 18.5% since 2007, despite an increase in overall NHS activity, the NIHR is seeking to do more to understand how we can reduce emissions and develop innovative ways of working.
In the UK, the NIHR is calling for researchers to submit research proposals to evaluate interventions and services to support the delivery of a sustainable UK health and care system - such as cutting emissions from inhalers and anaesthetic gases and reducing single use medical equipment to mitigate the effects of climate change. This included a call via the Health and Social Care Delivery Research (HSDR) Programme looking at supporting the delivery of net zero health and social care system. Researchers working on existing NIHR studies will be asked to consider how they could deliver their research in a more sustainable way.
The new cross-programme ‘themed call’ for research is a key component of our continuing response in recognition of the need for further research-based evidence relating to the provision of more sustainable health, public health and social care services and processes and to support the UK’s ambition to deliver a ‘net zero’ NHS and meet the goals of the COP26 summit.
To address the impact of climate change outside of the UK, the NIHR has just announced the Research and Innovation for Global Health Transformation (RIGHT) programme, which funds interdisciplinary applied global health research, opened a new call for research to investigate how health services in low and middle income countries can adapt to disruption caused by extreme weather events caused by the changing climate.
Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR said:
“Climate change is one of the defining issues of our generation; its effects will have a huge impact on people’s health and on future economic prosperity.
“High quality research into this important area will greatly help the health and care systems at home and abroad work towards a more sustainable net zero future, and lead to the development of practical, real-world solutions with demonstrable impact.”
NIHR will be announcing further opportunities to improve the sustainability of ongoing research and initiatives to support net zero goals over the coming months.
For more information on applying for the new themed call, visit the themed calls page.
For more information on the RIGHT global health call, visit the dedicated call page.