KAMPALA – A total of 99% of government and private hospitals do not have any structure in place to dispose of medical waste while 85% use poor medical waste management methods, a report has revealed.
According to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) Corporate Report for 2017/18, waste from health care facilities is increasingly of concern because there is limited infrastructure for such waste.
The report was conducted after NEMA and the technical committee on the licensing of pollution undertook inspections of selected hospitals around the country. The facilities, among others, included; Masaka Referral Hospital, Kitovu Hospital, Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, Itojo Hospital, Kawolo General Hospital, Jinja Regional Referral Hospital, Iganga General Hospital, Kiryandongo General Hospital, Gulu Independent Hospital, Holy Innocent Children’s Hospital, and Pentecostal Assemblies of God Hospital in Lira District.
“Key findings to note are that 99% of the medical facilities sampled, with the exception of Itojo Hospital, did not have strategies in place for Health Care Waste (HCW) management, while 85% use poor methods of medical waste management. There is limited infrastructure for storage, segregation and final disposal of HCW. Common methods of disposal of health care waste at these facilities include; open burning and use of nonfunctional pits to dispose of the infectious waste (body parts and placenta),” the report adds.
NEMA attributes this to financial constraints, non-functional waste disposal facilities (incinerators), inadequate logistical supplies and limited technical support/ capacity building, among others.
NEMA calls on the government to ensure adequate funding to the regional referral hospitals to enhance their capacity in ensuring proper medical waste management.
“This should include enhanced logistical supplies and increased funding for operational costs,” the report says.
NEMA also calls on the government to outsource incineration services from reputable and capable private sector entities, and regionalize medical waste management facilities, in addition to building capacity in local content.
It also urges the government to ensure regular liaison with the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) regarding repair of spoilt, final disposal and procurement of radiological equipment.
“In addition, gazette central storage for all the non-functional radiological wastes generated from health care facilities. As much as possible, the Government of Uganda should avoid or control the donation of medical equipment which have authentic information origin and manufacturing especially radiological equipment,” the report adds.