Gary Cohen was writing a book on toxins chemicals when he grasped the hardship of families living near waste sites trying to protect their children. He co-founded Health Care Without Harm in 1996 after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared medical waste incineration as the leading source of dioxin, one of the most potent carcinogens. Health Care Without Harm exists to inspire health care providers to utilize products and practices that are healthier for humans as well as environmentally friendly. The organization has created a collaborative network of 450 groups in 52 countries that are committed to following guidelines and carrying out the principles of the health first initiative. Health Care Without Harm has aided in eliminating almost all mercury medical products in U.S. and European hospitals, and has been influential in closing 90 percent of medical waste incinerators in the U.S. It continues to push for a global effort in changing the procedures of medical providers. In 2006, Cohen was given the Skoll Foundation's Social Entrepreneur Award. Through Health Care Without Harm, Gary Cohen has initiated a movement toward transforming the health care sector worldwide into a system that protects the immediate health of the individual and the environment without risking the future health of either.
"At a time when Europeans are frightened about dioxin in their food supply and American babies are being born with dioxin already in their bodies, it is outrageous that the World Bank is actually financing projects which will increase the dioxin load in countries around the world."