Today is World Health Day. With the theme ‘Universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere’ and hashtag #HealthForAll on social media, WHO puts focus on the large portion of the world’s population without access to Universal Health Coverage – in other words essential, affordable healthcare. Achieving Universal Health Coverage is one of the Sustainable Development Goals, which UN Member nations adopted in 2015. To achieve this ambitious aim, affordable and safe materials for healthcare applications are needed.
PVC, or vinyl, is the most used plastic material for disposable medical devices. From blood bags for life-saving blood transfusion over oxygen masks and feeding tubes to mattress covers and gloves, PVC is the material of choice. Safety is a key reason behind the popularity of the plastic material. For over six decades, the use of PVC in health care applications has proven to be safe. Another important reason is the plastic material’s low cost. PVC is made from common salt (57%) and oil or natural gas (43%). Common salt is an abundant resource, which makes PVC an inexpensive material. This of course reflects on the final price of PVC-based medical devices, which have an excellent cost-performance ratio. By choosing PVC medical devices, healthcare providers are able to stretch their budgets and thereby make basic healthcare more accessible.
Affordable and safe medical devices are only one element of global health. WHO also stresses the importance of clean water and sanitation, which is Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals. Here PVC – primarily a plastic used in building and construction – also can contribute by providing safe, durable and cost-effective piping systems for drinking water and sanitation. As a recent peer-reviewed scientific article points out, better piping systems can have a massive impact on health, food production and ultimately help to achieve several of the Sustainable Development Goals.