By:Staff WriterColombo (LNW):Sri Lanka’s existing limited infrastructure and resources in the health care waste management system has created an additional burden on Health Care Facilities (HCFs) and the Health Ministry to safeguard staff and the environment, research report revealed.
According to the Central Environmental Authority (CEA), it is estimated that daily clinical waste generation is around 25 Metric Tonnes (MT) in the country.
In this context the Health ministry has accorded priorty to strengthen infectious waste management in government hospitals by implementing healthcare waste management project to implement infectious waste management in government hospitals
Accordingly Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has stepped in to support this project by providing Japanese Yen five hundred and three million (Approximately Rs 1.3 bn)
The Project aims to strengthen infectious waste management by installing medical waste incinerators in selected public hospitals, thereby contributing to the reduction of health hazards.
In order to achieve the above purpose, 15 hospitals have been selected to install incinerators covering all the provinces in Sri Lanka.
A total of 15 incinerators will be provided in two capacities with LP Gas burners, automatic temperature control systems and compliance with the environment standards under the project.
It will also extend the necessary technical guidance to the Ministry of Health as a soft component of the project for Training of Trainers (TOT) to maintain the system after the installation of equipment under the Project.
The relevant Exchange Notes related to the grant has been signed by K.M Mahinda Siriwardana, the Secretary, Ministry of Finance, in the presence of MIZUKOSHI Hideaki, the Ambassador of Government of Japan to Sri Lanka.
The Grant Agreement was signed by K.M Mahinda Siriwardana, Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies and YAMADA Tetsuya, Chief Representative, JICA Sri Lanka Office on April 26, 2023 at the Ministry of Finance.
It has been found that many hospitals, particularly regional and base hospitals lack adequate resources for proper medical waste disposal, so they burn clinical waste openly, instead of incinerating such waste.
“Though the medical staff is well aware of the consequences of not doing proper incineration, finance and admin officers do not fully understand the implication and hence tend to give low priorities,” the research report revealed.
The report also highlighted the gendered nature of healthcare waste management, with more than eighty percent of sanitation workers being women, which is largely unrecognized with increased exposure to risks and solid waste contamination.
In 2019, the National Audit Report on Health Care Waste Management (HCWM) pointed out that healthcare waste and solid waste management is a major social and environmental challenge in Sri Lanka which needs urgent attention.