Proper disposal of healthcare waste is critical: Deo

Hazardous hospital-care waste needs to be disposed of properly given the dangers they pose to the environment and people’s health says Fiji’s Ministry of Health Chief Health Inspector Vimal Deo.

Such waste makes up between 10 and 25 percent of total waste produced by healthcare providers, Mr. Deo said, who also emphasised the need for awareness raising including the education of personnel responsible for their disposal, and the need to review current disposal practices given the harmful components of the waste.

Managing healthcare waste also became one of the critical concerns in Fiji during the country’s COVID-19 intervention period.

“In this regard, urgent education is necessary awareness promotion to relevant personnel in medical waste treatment,” Mr. Deo said, who also recommended on-site incineration as opposed to transportation of medical wastes treatment in Fiji as has been the practice in the country.

In Fiji, most sub-divisional hospitals transfer their medical wastes to divisional hospitals for incineration. In 2011, 62,518kg of medical waste was incinerated in the three divisional hospitals. Those considered as general waste are either burnt, sent to a landfill site, or buried on-site in some sub-divisional hospitals.

“Moreover, the remotely controllable and fixable small-scale incinerator is more desirable in sub-divisional hospitals. It is recommended that Fiji Government set up a legal framework for medical waste management (MWM) to develop specific guidelines for MWM, set up a training system for MWM to ensure that all relevant personnel is trained, to develop a monitoring and supervision system for MWM, to clarify the future financing of MWM activities, and to improve the MWM infrastructure.”

Stakeholders met this week in a workshop to discuss, finalise and strengthen the implementation of a policy that ensures that waste is managed appropriately at all levels and stages.

In Fiji, the Department of Environment is legislated under the Environmental Management Act 2005 to oversee the disposal of waste. However, the safe keeping and proper disposal of special (infectious) healthcare waste is the responsibility of the health ministry.

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