Editorial: Improper disposal of medical wastes

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Thursday, August 21, 2014


POOR management of health care waste potentially exposes health care workers, waste handlers, patients and the community at large to infection, toxic effects and injuries, and risks polluting the environment.

It is essential that all medical waste materials are segregated at the point of generation, appropriately treated and disposed of safely.

Wastes generated by health care activities includes a broad range of materials, from used needles and syringes to soiled dressings, body parts, diagnostic samples, blood, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and radioactive materials.

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Current protocols on medical waste disposal seem not to be sufficient to protect public health.

Last Tuesday, City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) officer-in-charge Engr. Liza Madrazo revealed that a scavenger was caught dumping medical wastes somewhere in Bajada.

The scavenger was only issued with a citation ticket for violating city's ordinance on mixing hospital wastes on biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes.

It is just an indication that many healthcare facilities have poor management of healthcare waste disposal.

Instead of treating these medical wastes, these facilities pay scavengers to collect wastes and dump these anywhere.

The Health Care Management Manual of the Department of Health provides that "A framework for health care waste management should always consider health and occupational safety."

"There are many potential hazards associated when dealing or handling health care waste such as physical, chemical and biological hazards as well as ergonomic factors. Health care facilities should identify all these specific environmental and occupational hazards during handling, storing, treating, and disposing of health care waste."

According to the manual, there are 10 types of health care wastes-general waste, infectious waste, pathological waste, sharps, pharmaceutical waste, geno-toxic waste, chemical waste, waste with high content of heavy metals, pressurized containers and radioactive waste.

Let us all be reminded that medical wastes is prohibited under Republic Act No. 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990."

Several laws compel them to dispose their wastes properly.
It is quite ironic that healthcare facilities, which principles dictate them to be centers of wellness and health, spread out diseases caused by poor management of healthcare waste.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 22, 2014.

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