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Packing an extra suitcase on your next trip could save lives

 

Two staff members showcase medical supplies.

Operation Green medical supplies reach Cuba thanks to Margo Clarke from The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. She carried a suitcase for Not Just Tourists. (Photo: UHN Green Team)

 

It brings new meaning to the concept of all-inclusive vacation.

Operation Green, an environmental group run by volunteer medical students doing their training at UHN, has teamed up with a non-governmental organization, Not Just Tourists, to have travelers take medical supplies to developing countries.

“What if what we consider waste in our healthcare system could actually save lives? Instead of producing unwanted amounts of garbage by throwing out perfectly usable medical supplies, they can be easily transported to other countries, providing better and more immediate care,” says Margo Clarke, volunteer with Not Just Tourists and Manager, Administration and Corporate Secretary to the Board at The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. 

“It’s such a simple thing to do and it makes a huge difference to so many.”

Operation Green recovers medical supplies readied for surgery but never used, and ships them to developing countries that may not readily have access to these resources, including: clean gloves, bandages, needles and portable x-rays. This practice is also cost-effective, saving on the hauling fee by not sending these supplies to waste.

While Operation Green collects the supplies, support is still required to send them to their destination. That’s where groups like Not Just Tourists come in. Their mandate is simple: send a suitcase of medical supplies with someone already traveling to a country in need.

Not Just Tourists has centres across Canada – and recently – Operation Green connected with the Toronto chapter. Operation Green was able to supply 176 lbs. of blood testing supplies, including: collection needles, vacutainers, alcohol swabs, pipettes and flushes to a clinic in South Africa for HIV testing.

How you can help

Do you work at UHN? If you know of any surplus medical supplies, please contact: OperationGreen@uhn.ca.

If you work in a hospital, find out if you have an Operation Green Chapter (and start one if you don’t).

If you’re heading anywhere interesting in the world, you may want to carry a suitcase too. An extra suitcase can save a life.

 

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