Intended for healthcare professionals


Boost for sustainable healthcare

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 28 January 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m284
  1. Iona Heath, former general practitioner
  1. London, UK
  2. iona.heath22{at}

Cochrane joins the fight against waste, corruption, and futility in healthcare

At the preventing overdiagnosis conference in Sydney, Australia, in December 2019, Cochrane launched a new group, “sustainable healthcare.”1 It seemed particularly appropriate in a city blanketed by thick yellow smoke from the bush fires that raged around it.

The group will have the potential to bring together issues of futility and waste within biomedicine; corruption in the production and governance of biomedical research; exploitation of planetary resources and the resulting climate change; the burgeoning costs of biotechnical healthcare across the globe; and the threat this represents to universal health coverage. This is an enormous agenda of interconnected issues that exacerbate each other in a series of increasingly vicious circles.

The BMJ is one of a growing number of journals, organisations, researchers, clinicians, patients, and citizens drawing attention to the problems posed by too much medicine: overscreening, overtesting, overdiagnosis, and overtreatment. Modern medicine has been a powerful …

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