Medical Waste Treatment in the News #001
Medical Waste Treatment in the News #001
At Envomed, we are always working to highlight the global issue of medical waste treatment – and the consequences of insufficient practices for public health and the environment.
A quick round-up of global news demonstrates that we are not alone. Medical waste treatment is becoming a hot topic around the world. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the news making the headlines globally:
Risks to public health
In this article, by NC Policy Watch we are reminded that fine particulate matter, of the type often emitted by off-site incinerators when medical waste is burned, “can exacerbate or cause asthma, COPD and heart conditions”.
Furthermore, “Other pollutants are emitted from the burning of medical waste, which can include residues from chemotherapy procedures, even “anatomical waste” — body parts.
Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, widely used throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, is also classified as hospital or medical waste. Many of these materials, such as IV tubing, contain large amounts of plastic, according to the Conservation Law Foundation. Burning plastic emits many contaminants, including lead, a neurotoxin; and dioxins, which are known carcinogens, into the air”.
You can read the full story here.
The irony of incinerated medical waste causing yet more medical problems for the public can be prevented by more sustainable on-site medical waste treatment solutions like the Envomed 80.
COVID-19 exacerbating the problem
With COVID-19 measures easing around the world, it can be easy to forget some of the lasting impacts that, perhaps, we have yet to even fully realise.
One of these is the sheer amount of medical waste generated by treatment given during the pandemic. This of course only exacerbates the existing issue of inefficient waste treatment – as the quantities needing to be managed now far exceed anything we have ever seen before.
This article explains how the Kandal Province, Cambodia is attempting to tackle the problem by building a brand new Medical Waste Treatment Facility.
Whilst this step is understandable given the huge increase in medical waste the province has to tackle, transporting waste off-site still carries with it inherent risk and comes at a financial cost too. On-site treatment has been proven to be more economical over time and also removes the risk of leakage and contamination during transit. It also discourages the practice of allowing medical waste to pile up at hospitals to save money on more regular trips to the treatment facility.
Shared centralised medical waste treatment schemes can be expensive and inefficient
In Goa, India, hospitals are about to experience an increase in costs for the processing of applications to authorise handling of biomedical waste.
Hospitals with up to five beds will now be charged Rs 1,000 while larger hospitals will have to pay up to Rs 15,000.
Furthermore, biomedical waste management agencies will pay Rs 10,000 for a shared biomedical waste treatment facility and Rs 7,500 for transport of biomedical waste.
Read more here
WHO describes urgent need to improve waste management systems
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently conducted a Global analysis of health care waste in the context of COVID-19 and concluded that: Tens of thousands of tonnes of extra medical waste from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has put tremendous strain on health care waste management systems around the world, threatening human and environmental health and exposing a dire need to improve waste management practices”
The study revealed: “Today, 30% of healthcare facilities (60% in the least developed countries) are not equipped to handle existing waste loads, let alone the additional COVID-19 load. This potentially exposes health workers to needle stick injuries, burns and pathogenic microorganisms, while also impacting communities living near poorly managed landfills and waste disposal sites through contaminated air from burning waste, poor water quality or disease carrying pests”.
Among the solutions suggested by the WHO, is increased investment in ‘non-burn’ technologies and ‘reverse logistics to support centralized treatment’.
At Envomed we believe this can be taken even further with the introduction of on-site treatment of medical waste. This doesn’t only reduce but it eliminates completely the need for waste to be transported and treated off site – reducing carbon emissions substantially.
Furthermore, the Envomed 80 offers non-burn sterilising to STAAT level 4 – in a fully validatable way. Allowing the processed remnants to be disposed of as general municipal waste without any risk to public health.
You can read more about the WHO report, here.