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Sustainability in healthcare 

Sustainability in healthcare 

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In 2021, the Prince of Wales launched Terra Carta – a global roadmap to 2030, helping businesses move into a sustainable future. UAE-based, Fakeeh University Hospital has become one of the first private hospitals to join this initiative. Dr. Fatih Mehmet Gul, Chief Executive Officer, Fakeeh University Hospital tells us more.  

Sustainability has become an increasingly important pillar in almost all business strategies worldwide. According to Deloitte, 97% of 2,000 CEOs surveyed expressed that their companies have already felt the negative impacts of climate change, while 63% have said that their organisations are concerned about the continuous harm it could continue to cause.   

Launched in January 2021, the Terra Carta is a global proposition from the Sustainable Markets Initiative that provides a roadmap to 2030 for businesses to move towards an ambitious and sustainable future; one that will harness the power of nature combined with the transformative power, innovation and resources of the private sector. 

Fakeeh University Hospital, a world-class healthcare and academic facility in the UAE, has become one of the first private hospitals in the UAE to join Terra Carta, the global business proposition launched by Prince Charles of Wales. 

Dr. Fatih Mehmet Gul, Chief Executive Officer, Fakeeh University Hospital speaks to us about the Terra Carta, sustainability and the steps the business is taking to be more environmentally friendly. 

Can you tell us about your role and the company? 

I’m the CEO of Fakeeh University Hospital – the newest hospital in our group, Fakeeh Care. Our group is one of the largest healthcare groups in the region and we have been working on several integrated businesses, like medical education, rehabilitation and digital health projects. 

The group was established in 1978 and has been operating in healthcare for the last 44 years. We have achieved many milestones in that time, for example, in 1983, we were the first private hospital in KSA to provide an IVF service. In 1984, we were the first hospital that had a kidney transplant in a private hospital setup and then in 2003, our medical education journey began; today we have established a nursing college, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) and PharmD, as well as several other residency programmes.  

Fakeeh University Hospital has been open for the past 14 months and it is the first teaching hospital in Dubai. It is the largest private hospital, with a 350-bed capacitor, mainly focusing on the tertiary care delivery models. We’ve also been awarded the gold LEED certificate, which we’re very proud of.  

What has your career journey looked like so far? 

I’m a physician and when I first started my career, I dealt with a lot of patients in-clinic, and after a while, I found there were lots of other things that I could contribute, outside the clinic.  

Later on, I found myself dealing with healthcare planning, healthcare investment and operational management. During this period, I established an NGO, called CSR Middle East – which was one of the Middle East’s first Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) platforms. Subsequently, I started dealing with the Corporate Social Responsibility projects.  

Can you tell us more about the Terra Carta and its mission? 

When the pandemic hit, we gained an increased awareness around sustainability and the environment as humanity realised it’s not just about our lives, we have to consider everything around us. For example, energy was an important topic in our daily life, whereas it was less important in the past. We also came to understand the importance of the supply chain, and so now we understand the environment better.  

There are several initiatives in the world at the moment, concerning sustainability and the environment, including the Terra Carta – created by his Royal Highness Prince of Wales, Prince Charles. He gave a speech about environmental issues, the importance of carbon zero and carbon emissions, before bringing all those things together with this initiative.  

What appealed to Fakeeh University Hospital about the initiative? 

Since 2008, we have been releasing CSR reports, and when we were working on CSR, we had three main pillars: employee, community and environment. So as a group, we already had an awareness and had made it part of our vision/mission as a company.  So, when we started planning Fakeeh University Hospital in 2014, we decided we’d like to have an environmentally-friendly green hospital.  

Green hospitals are a very new concept. We invest in hospitals to heal the people, and while healing people we do not want to damage the environment, instead, we have to also heal it.  

One of the reasons why environmental damage is happening is because of heavy businesses, such as factories or large operations where there is waste to manage. You’re running huge engines and consuming a lot of energy, which has an impact on the wider community. So, you are, indirectly, contributing to people’s sickness. That is why from day one, we decided to make this hospital as environment friendly as possible.  

In LEED, there are three different levels: bronze, silver and gold. We decided to aim for gold and put a lot of investment into this. Why are other hospitals not going in the same direction? It is a big investment and it is costly. But it’s worth it. The Terra Carta aims to unite people and the planet, by placing importance on nature and ensuring a lasting impact for future generations. This is very similar to our vision, so we are happy to be part of this initiative.  

What are the drivers behind Fakeeh’s University Hospital’s commitment to a more sustainable future? 

We implemented BMS (Building Management System). This has helped us manage the hospital incredibly well – like a computer. We teach the system and the system manages the entire hospital based on our efficiency levels, ultimately helping us cut down on waste. 

Our efforts have also been aided by the LEED programme. LEED has lots of principles that you have to apply to keep this certificate for the long-term, which we are applying – for example, we’re planning to implement solar panels for better and more efficient energy use. 

How does the growing consumer demand for sustainability impact your strategy? 

Consumer demand is prominent in Europe and other developed countries but not in the Middle East. However, people are already questioning your sustainability initiatives; they want to see the impact of your programmes and ESG reports.  

We as, Fakeeh Care Group, want to be a leader in sustainability, while still pursuing medical excellence. That way, we’re creating awareness and, in the future, it definitely will be appreciated. Take Saudi Arabia, for example, it has a very young population. The average age is around 20. So, we have a huge young population and young people are more aware of environmental issues; they are looking for companies who share this awareness and who are trying to manage energy and their operations without damaging the environment. So, we are seeing consumer demand on this front, and I expect, as a CEO, to see more demand in the future.  

What are the benefits of taking a sustainable approach? 

In future, we will have questions about the impact of our operation, and then what have we done over the last 20 years to help people and the environment? We will be able to detail our full operations to the community and to the government, which will only benefit us. I also expect to see similar initiatives appearing globally.  

Additionally, sustainability always attracts talent, talent looks for this kind of company, one with good environmental initiatives. So then to attract the best talent, CEOs should apply such principles in their operations/strategy. 

What advice would you offer other organisations in your industry keen to take steps towards sustainability but uncertain where to start? 

Businesses must create an action plan, if not they’ll continue to harm the community and environment.  

Businesses should not only consider the sustainability of the environment but also the sustainability of their business. ESG must be taken very seriously. A sustainability strategy shouldn’t be seen as a lengthy investment, as it will be cost-efficient in the long run.  

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