WHO Report on Health Care Waste

The World Health Organization recently raised concerns against the extra medical waste created by COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has put immense strain on medical waste management systems in the world.

Key findings of WHO Report

The World Health Organization alone sent 87,000 tonnes of Personal protective equipment between March 2020 and November 2021. This equipment should have turned into waste by now. They were all sent under emergency initiative of the organization. These numbers project the PPE used within the initiative. It does not include the waste generated by the public such as disposable medical masks. The WHO had sent 140 million test kits. These kits should have generated 2,600 tonnes of medical wastes. They are all made of plastics. Also, the kits should have generated 731,000 litres of chemical waste. The WHO sent 8 billion doses of vaccines. These vaccines should have created 144,000 tonnes of medical wastes in the form of syringes, safety boxes and needles.

Current Scenario

The WHO report says that 30% of health care facilities are not equipped to handle the medical waste. 60% of them are in least developed countries. This exposes the front line workers to pathogenic organisms, burns, stick injuries. It also affects the communities living nearby. Also, it affects the poorly managed landfills. It contaminates the air and spreads diseases through pests.

Recommendations made by the report

Use eco – friendly packaging. Also increase the use of reusable Personal Protective Equipment, biodegradable materials. Invest in non – burn waste treatment technologies, reverse logistics and support centralised treatment, increase investment in recycling sector. Increase budget and financing. The COVID – 19 waste management issues can be addressed through strong national policies, increasing accountability of the public, regular monitoring, behavioural change and by increasing workforce development.

Added burden

The issue has risen at times when the world is trying to reduce the carbon foot print and reduce the wastes in the landfill.

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