Poor waste management in hospitals a public concern


The Addis Ababa Food, Medicine and Health Care Administration (AA FMHCA) held hospital managers responsible for the poor biomedical waste management systems of several health care centers in the city.
General Director of AA FMHCA, Getachew Woreti, spoke emphatically at a workshop organized by Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra) that health care centers should take waste management as a serious matter.
“Poor management of health care waste potentially exposes health care workers, waste handlers, patients and the community at large to infections, toxic substances and injuries, and pollutes the environment. Our assessment shows that the waste management system of most health care centers is not protected against various infectious diseases.”
The administration said waste disposal systems are poorly designed and implemented at health centers and hospitals as managers are very negligent. 
Random checks  conducted by the administration revealed many do not have a unit or department responsible for waste management. The check also shows that there is minimal knowledge about environmental issues among various parties that are involved in waste management. 
Challenges surrounding health care waste disposal have compounded the problem. Lack of awareness about the health risks caused by health-care waste, inadequate training in proper waste management, absence of waste management and disposal systems, insufficient financial and human resources and the low priority given to the issue are the most persistent of problems.
The supervisory office is consequently preparing standards that force health care centers to have proper biomedical waste handling and disposal systems. The guide will include penalties, to be applied in cases of obstruction of the law.  
“There is a guideline which is prepared by the Ministry of Health, but sadly, many health care centers don’t abide by it. Now we are preparing standards that will take into account the practice, suitability of the premises, professional staff and products that are at hand as a reference. Health centers that score low across these reference points will be subject to actions,” Getachew said.
He added that the administration is working with Kotra which is sharing best practices in biomedical waste management system with AA FMHCA.
Hospitals produce large amounts of waste that, according to several reports, needs a specialized disposal system. Some of the waste hospitals produce is biomedical — it mainly consists of human anatomical waste, microbiology and  biotechnology waste, discarded medicines and  cytotoxic drugs, and soiled plaster castes, blood soaked cotton, beddings and wastes from pathological laboratories and blood banks.