Reducing adverse health and environmental impacts from healthcare waste disposal, by extending the life of donor-funded healthcare waste management investments in incinerator technology, was the focus of the Clean Pacific Roundtable Deep Dive session on Healthcare Medical Waste Investment Plan.
Healthcare waste includes all the waste generated by healthcare establishments, research facilities, and laboratories. In addition, it includes the waste originating from scattered sources such as that produced during health care undertaken in homes like, dialysis and insulin injections.
Healthcare waste management (HCWM) is the process that ensure safe handling and disposal of medical waste.
The CPRT Deep Dive session discussion centred on the opportunities and employment advantages of in-country HCWM infrastructure, and the creation of a development partner funded technical facility to deliver long-term solutions to healthcare waste management issues.
Presentations from the World Bank, Advanced Combustion Engineering PTY Ltd, and the European Union funded and SPREP implemented PacWastePlus programme, provided participants an overview of how incinerators function, the purpose of the healthcare waste maintenance facility and discussed supporting creation of the maintenance Facility.
“Healthcare waste management deficiencies go beyond the availability of incinerators and often poor waste management practices in health facilities which includes segregation, handling, transport, tracking and storage”, commented Rosie Davey a senior environmental specialist with the Environment and Natural Resources division of the World Bank.
Davey added that insufficient focus on healthcare waste management systems, plans, policies, procedures, capacity, budget at both district and facility level leads to ongoing poor outcomes in Pacific Island countries.
“Many existing incinerators are sub-optimal or not operational as poor maintenance and practices have led to inoperable, inefficient and polluting incinerators that often have a high level of operational risk,” said Davey.
Reflecting on lessons learnt and way forward, Davey highlighted that sustainable operation of incinerators should include appropriate technology, robust management systems and plans, training, budget, and resource planning.
“We aim to integrate improved HCWM and Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) into project design and have made significant -investments including incinerators in PNG, Fiji, Samoa and the Solomon Islands,” she added.
An insightful overview of how incinerators function, highlighting the various operating components, the importance of regular maintenance and proper operation was provided by Michael Coccia, Proprietor of Advanced Combustion Engineering PTY, Ltd.
“The design, quality of construction, installation and commissioning, backup and support from manufacturers and most importantly ownership by the end users is required for the success of incinerator projects”, commented Cocci during his presentation.
The Deep Dive session participants were informed that the PacWastePlus programme is addressing HCWM issues through a regional healthcare waste management project to assist participating project countries to treat healthcare wastes efficiently and sustainably.
“The regional PacWastePlus healthcare waste project will refine, update, and develop training which includes storage, treatment, and disposal solutions for healthcare waste,” stated Lance Richman, the PacWastePlus Technical Waste Project Officer for Hazardous Waste.
Richman added that the project will also undertake an assessment of the impact of a previously implemented PacWaste healthcare waste project along with the repair of selected healthcare waste incinerators in the region.
During the 2021 meeting of SPREP officials supported the development of a Healthcare Medical Waste Investment Plan in partnership with donor projects such as GEF ISLAND to enhance healthcare waste management in member countries.
This story was produced by Leanne, published at SPREP on 19 November 2021, reposted via PACNEWS.