Medical Waste Treatment in the News #003
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:
Study of health care waste management plans (HCWMPs) South Africa finds “inadequate health and safety aspects, environmental pollution”.
A study released by BMC into health care waste management plans (HCWMPs) and practices in public health care facilities in Gauteng Province, South Africa concluded that “there is limited integration of HCWMPs as inadequate health and safety aspects, environmental pollution as well as community participation was reported”.
Notable results from the study included the discovery that “most (79.0%) of the health care waste officers (HCWOs) as well as management (84.6%) agreed to have HCWMPs in place. The majority (76.9%) of the HCFs have a dedicated person appointed to manage health care waste with the majority (67%) being environmental health practitioners. According to management, only 30.8% have formally appointed an integrated HCW committee. Only 11.7% of the HCWOs are guided by the Occupational Health and Safety Act to develop their HCWMPs with only 20.5% with health care waste minimisation strategies in place”.
There is no doubt that waste management, particularly when it comes to hazardous and infectious wastes that are typically generated by medical institutions around the world, is extremely challenging and a strain on resources. This makes innovations like the Envomed 80, which allow such institutions to easily and effectively treat high volumes of waste on-site with no risk to the environment or public health, vital.
You can read the study here
“All those involved should strive to make the environment safer”.
A systematic review of “Biomedical Waste Management (BWM) and Its Importance” by Cureus in India has highlighted the dangers to public health and the Environment of improper medical waste management- urging everyone involved in the process to ‘do better’.
The review found that: “BMW threatens the health of medical staff, hospital-visiting patients, and people in the nearby community. Improper disposal leads to severe hospital-acquired diseases along with an increased risk of air and water pollution. Due to open-space waste disposal practices, animals and scavengers might get infected, leading to the scattering of waste and the spreading of infections.”
The review makes particular mention of the dangers of disposing of sharps (syringes etc) without first segregating them from other types of waste because:
“When the waste is simply disposed of, there is an increased risk of the mixture of waste such as sharps with general waste. These sharps can be infectious to the handler of the waste. Further, if not segregated properly, there is a huge chance of syringes and needles disposed of in the hospitals being reused. Segregation prevents this and helps in achieving the goal of recycling the plastic and metal waste generated“.
The Envomed 80 solves this problem completely without the need for manual segregation. Sharps and infectious medical waste can be treated together by the unit, without putting humans at risk through the manual separation task. In addition, as well as being treated to STAATT Level IV the Envomed 80 converts the sharp items to a completely harmless ‘confetti’ thanks to its powerful 4-shaft shredder.
Using chemical disinfection using Envomed’s scientifically-designed Biocetic, the sharps, solid and liquid waste are all able to be disposed of via the municipal waste as they are completely harmless to the environment and the public after treatment.
The risks highlighted in the review, of transporting the infectious and sharp waste, and the potential damage to the environment through waste incineration are also completely avoided by using the Envomed 80 – which allows medical institutions to treat their waste on-site with no negative impact to the environment.
You can read the Cureus review here.
Japan provides US$ 3.7 mn grant assistance to Sri Lanka to improve Infectious Waste Management
An article by Columbo Page has highlighted the impact COVID-19 has had on medical waste levels in Sri Lanka – creating a dangerous situation both for the public and the environment.
It states: “In Sri Lanka, the amount of infectious waste from health facilities in all regions has increased rapidly since the government began promoting vaccinations to control the spread of COVID-19. The instalment of the appropriate equipment for infectious waste management has therefore become an urgent issue; however, the government’s budgetary constraints have deterred their ability to respond to this need.”
The results of the Sri Lankan waste treatment system reaching breaking point are incredibly worrying:
“As a result, problems are arising such as the exposure of hospital staff to infectious pathogens, health damage to surrounding residents due to the disposal of waste through burning in open fields or through aging facilities, and the emission of dioxins, smoke, and unpleasant odors”.
The article also highlights a common problem with existing medical waste treatment methods such as incinerators – popular all over the world – the fact that they are not 100% effective at sterilizing waste:
“The country’s current form of waste management—utilizing aging incinerators and the open burning method—does not allow waste to reach the appropriate incineration temperature. This results in the generation of dioxins, black smoke, and bad odors, as well as an increased risk of exposure to infectious agents from improperly managed waste”.
Thankfully, Japan has stepped in to provide Financial aid in the form of a grant to Sri Lanka. The funds though, will be used to fund medical waste incinerators with temperature control and exhaust gas treatment equipment, to help ease the pressure on the Sri Lankan System.
The Envomed 80 however, if utilised in Sri Lanka, would represent real progress in the fight against inadequate waste treatment processes. It would allow Sri Lanka’s medical institutions to treat their waste on-site, in a completely validatable and odourless way, with no risk to public health or the environment.
You can read the full article by Colombo Page, here.