A hydroclave system which disposes of potentially hazardous medical waste will be installed on the grounds of the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH), a release from the hospital said.
Over the years, the Ministry of Health has pursued a number of initiatives to improve healthcare waste management including through the recently passed Health Facilities Act, by developing National Medical Waste Policy Regulations for the Management of Medical Wastes generated by healthcare facilities and by designing a ‘National Healthcare Waste Management Guide-lines.’
According to the World Health Organisation most of the waste generated by healthcare establishments can be treated as regular municipal solid waste, but varying proportions, about 10%, require special attention and are hazardous. It said too mismanagement of this small percentage of waste can pose a potential risk to humans and the environment.
The Georgetown Munici-pality collects and transports about 1.3 tonnes of infectious waste daily, to the Mandela Landfill. The ministry said the management of healthcare waste has posed a number of risks from improper storage at facilities, to workers while it is being transported and to the environment. The leaching of this potentially hazardous waste from the landfill to surface waters is also a concern as it can lead to contamination and transmit diseases.
In 2006, the ministry commissioned a team of local experts to study and find solutions to this problem which lead to the advanced hydroclave system that would be used to sterilize infectious waste in a manner that would not pollute the environment. This system has been endorsed by major stakeholders including the World Bank and it will be installed on the grounds of the GPH.
According to the release a hydroclave is a double-walled cylindrical vessel, horizontally mounted with one or more top loading doors and a smaller unloading one at the bottom. It is expected to shred and sterilize plastics, sharps, gauze, solid dressings, sponges, specimen and specimen containers used in research and other waste. The system will be operated on the presumption that biomedical waste is separated from the general waste stream, however; it cannot process radioactive, chemical or mercury waste.
The ministry also said the management of the structure will include a director, an engineer, an administrative assistant, an occupational safety and health officer and a waste management consultant.
The system will be located at the north-western section of the hospital in ‘N’ Block.