Saving Lives, Saving the Earth

By Mark Stubis, Human & Environmental Welfare Columnist


(HealthNewsDigest) — People in other countries are literally dying for what we throw away.

Each year, as millions of people in poor and developing countries succumb to treatable illnesses and injuries for lack of proper medical equipment, U.S. hospitals are throwing away some 2,000 tons of unused surgical supplies worth over $200 million. Not only are these lifesaving supplies wasted, but most of them end up in our oceans and landfills, compromising the health of the very planet that gives us life.

To help the sick as well as Mother Earth, one nonprofit organization is reclaiming usable medical equipment and sending it where it is most needed. Global Links, a charity based in Pittsburgh, partners with healthcare facilities to give new life to surplus new and used-but-still-serviceable medical materials that would otherwise be discarded because of changes in hospital regulations, new technology, changes in vendors, remodeling or consolidation. Global Links recovers these items, which range from sutures and surgical supplies to hospital beds, IV poles, wheelchairs and furnishings, and makes them available to hospitals that serve poor communities in less developed countries.

Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Global Links provided local first-responder medical personnel with vital medical materials. They coordinated the shipment of desperately needed medications and medical supplies to Deschapelles, where the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer found itself overwhelmed by thousands of people, many of whom needed treatment for crushing injuries. And when the cholera epidemic hit, Global Links sent four shipments of hospital mattresses and beds, linen, IV poles and basic supplies to Haiti, as well as kits including soap, cotton, intravenous catheters, gloves, and stethoscopes.

To ensure their quality and safety, all reclaimed items are carefully cleaned and refurbished to like-new condition before being shipped. Since its founding in 1989, Global Links has provided more than $160 million (more than 400 sea container shipments) in critical medical aid to developing nations, including Bolivia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, and Nicaragua.

“No one should die for lack of what others throw away,” says Global Links co-founder and CEO Kathleen Hower. “Global Links provides doctors with the basic but lifesaving supplies and equipment we take for granted, and that hospitals often discard.”

In addition to helping save lives, the organization’s efforts to use medical products that might otherwise be wasted are helping to reduce the environmental impact on the world upon which we all depend.

And that’s a prescription that should make everyone feel better.


General information:

Volunteer: Call 412-361-3424, ext. 205 or e-mail

Donate Medical Supplies: (if you are in MD, OH, PA, WV)

Support their efforts: Donate online through the nonprofit’s website or send a check to: Global Links, 4809 Penn Ave. #2, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Mark Stubis is a national nonprofit, healthcare and media executive with more than 20 years of experience working with leading charities, Fortune 500 companies, and global news organizations. An award-winning creator of public-issue awareness and prevention campaigns, Stubis’ work has been carried by more than 100,000 newspapers, TV and radio stations, and websites in 100 countries around the world. In his free time, the Juilliard-trained musician plays the piano and chess at his castle in the New York City area. You can contact him at .

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