MUSCAT, DEC 30 - The total quantity of healthcare waste (HCW) treated annually in the Sultanate reached 4,500 tonnes, according to Be’ah, Omani holding company for environmental services. However, the company said that 99.9 per cent of the waste produced by different public and private establishments has been disposed of safely. Muscat headed the list by 55 per cent of the total waste because of the large number of healthcare institutions — both government and private — exist in the governorate followed by Dhofar, North Al Batinah and Al Dakhiliyah governorates.
According to the latest environmental study by the National Field Research Centre for Environment Conservation, hazardous waste accounts for 15 to 25 per cent of the total waste. Be’ah, the state-owned flagship company for solid waste management, said that it has set out “an ambitious” plan for healthcare waste management in the Sultanate, starting with developing strategic plans to expand the scope of service delivery. This includes expansion of the healthcare waste treatment plant in Muscat Governorate and establishment of two treatment plants in the governorates of North Al Batinah and Dhofar. Because of its nature, healthcare waste poses a high risk of infectious disease outbreak and has a severe impact on environment.
For this, the company uses various technologies to treat healthcare waste; thermal processing for pharmaceutical waste and waste toxic for genes and cells, and sterilisation treatment system (autoclave) for the rest health waste types. “With the establishment of treatment plants, the random disposal of health care waste and chemical emissions from old incinerators in some hospitals have been stopped. Also, it could help replace them with modern treatment plants that are established in accordance with the latest international standards and recommended by WHO in a way that ensures safe management of the health waste by using the latest safe scientific methods to protect public health as well as environment”, said Jassim al Wahaibi, Head of the Health Care Waste Department at Be’ah.
The study, published in the new edition of Lynx issued on Monday, referred also to the efforts of the Ministry of Health (MoH) in this regard.
According to it, MoH established a department concerned with medical waste management in the ministry’s headquarters, besides similar departments in all its reference hospitals. “The Ministry has also begun to enact regulations and policies in this regard with the aim to ensuring the correct handling of medical waste within institutions through setting policies, improving practices and raising awareness”, points out the study.