Gov’t to Improve Hazardous Medical Waste Management
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has ordered for an intensive and systematic management of the medical waste.
“The President ordered that we must intensify medical waste management and do it more systematically by paying attention to the smallest details. So, we will pay attention on how the system works, from houses to service centers, or parallel to (waste) management area,” said Minister of the Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya said in her press statement after attending the meeting a limited meeting on COVID-19 hazardous medical waste held through a video conference, Wednesday (28/7).
According to the Minister, the data from her shows that COVID-19 medical waste amounted to 18,460 tons as of Tuesday (27/07), adding that the sources include healthcare facilities, emergency hospitals, isolation centers, residential areas (for self-isolation), COVID-19 test centers, and COVID-19 vaccination centers.
“Medical waste includes used IV tubes, facemasks, vaccine vials—the small vaccine bottles, syringes, face shields, bandages, hazmat (suits), PPE, medical suits, gloves, PCR / antigen kits, and alcohol swabs. Those are called toxic, hazardous medical waste,” she said.
Siti also said that the data on the number of COVID-19 hazardous medical waste was collected based on reports from provincial governments, but the received data may be incomplete, so her ministry will continue to complete it.
“The hospital association estimated that the medical waste is huge. It can amount to 383 tons per day,” she said, adding that the current national capacity of hazardous medical waste treatment is 493 tons per day, exceeding the total waste to be treated, yet the treatment facilities are concentrated in the island of Java.
“Therefore, the President ordered that all instruments to manage medical waste, to destroy infectious medical waste, must be cleared,” she said, adding that her ministry has allowed healthcare facilities to operate unauthorized incinerators.
“Since last year, Ministry of Environment and Forestry has given relaxation. So, besides speeding up authorization issuance, we have also allowed the operation of unauthorized incinerators with the provision that they operate with an 800-degree temperature and under constant supervision of Ministry of Environment and Forestry,” the Minister added.
The Minister further said that to increase the availability of medical waste management and treatment facilities across the country, the President has ordered for good facility and financial supports from COVID-19 Task Force, transfer to the regions, and other sources of funds.
“This directive from the President will be intensified. We will build waste destroyers. Whether they are incinerators or shredders, the system and other matters will be explained by the Head of National Research and Innovation Agency. The President ordered it to be immediately realized and carried out,” she remarked. (FID/UN) (DH/EP)