TO help mitigate the mounting waste problem, particularly the medical wastes, brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will be putting up healthcare waste management facilities.
The project will be implemented after the DENR has partnered with international agencies including governments from developing countries Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Nepal.
According to Floradema C. Eleazar, United Nations Development Program team leader, the China’s South South Cooperation Fund will finance the project with an allocation of $1.076 million for the Philippines.
The China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) is co-funding the project which totals to $5 million for five countries.
The conceptualization of the project was prompted as the medical waste brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic is now estimated to be accumulating at least 280 metric tons (MT) per day and this may cause adverse effects to human health.
Eleazar said two waste treatment facilities will be put up in the Philippines.
One treatment facility will be put up in cooperation with the Pasig City government where several hospitals (Pasig City General Hospital, Rizal Medical Center) are run by the government.
For his part, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto said during the project’s launch that the waste management project will bring about expertise in medical waste management in Pasig.
“The problem has reached critical level. The city government does not have a capacity to deal with this infectious waste (that has been piling up) in the past few months. It is an urgent concern that seeks to be addressed,” Sotto said.
“We look forward to the exchange of information, transfer of technology, technical support, , and training of people. We look forward to the use autoclave shredder to process and treat up to 50 kilo per hour of waste,” Sotto added.
Samuel C. Sumilang, chief nurse of Dr. Jose Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium in Tala, Caloocan City, on the other hand, also expressed gratitude for having been chosen as pilot site for the project.
The waste management project will emulate the success experienced by China in its response to the COVID-19 medical waste problem.
A UNIDO publication indicated that Infectious waste refers to medical waste that “carries pathogenic microorganisms and has the hazard of leading to the spread of infectious diseases.
Infectious waste mainly includes articles contaminated by patients’ blood, body fluid or excrement; and household garbage generated by isolated infectious patients or suspected infectious patients treated by medical institutions.”
The other types of medical waste that the health authorities are concerned with are drug waste; injury waste; chemical waste and pathogen culture medium and specimens, preservation solution of strains and virus seed discarded by pathogenic microorganism laboratories, as well as various discarded medical specimens; discarded blood and serum; used disposable medical supplies and disposable medical devices.
Injury waste refers to discarded sharp medical instruments that could stab or cut human body. Injury waste mainly includes: medical needles, suture needles, scalpels, surgical knives, skin preparation knives, surgical saws, glass slides, glass test tubes, and glass ampoules.
Chemical waste, meanwhile, refers to waste chemical articles that are toxic, corrosive, flammable and explosive.
Chemical waste mainly includes discarded chemical reagents from medical imaging department, pathology department and laboratories, discarded chemical disinfectants such as peroxyacetic acid and glutaraldehyde, as well as discarded medical instruments and articles containing heavy metals such as mercury sphygmomanometer and mercury thermometer.