The health risks of the prevailing practices of disposing hazardous hospital and medical wastes in Bohol have pushed a Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) member to call for a safer system.
Board Member Ricky Masamayor introduced in his privilege speech the “pyroclave” which, he said, is the better system of managing pathological and infectious wastes, including tissues, body parts, chemotherapy waste, sharps and vials.
He has been assured of P25 million from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to fund the waste disposal and treatment facility in a lot which can be provided by the provincial government.
A “survey” by his office staff revealed only two hospitals in Tagbilaran City apply “autoclave” in managing their medical wastes while other hospitals use a “vault.”
An autoclave is a device for disinfection using steam but in the process produces waste water and nasty odor while requiring high fuel cost.
For every kilogram of medical waste, two liters of waste water are produced.
A vault is a chamber or compartment dug deep down the soil where medical wastes are dumped, similar to how a septic tank functions.
“We can just imagine the possibility of our groundwater being contaminated by all those pathogens,” Masamayor said.
In one hospital, the board member said, infectious wastes are dumped into a vault but waste like placenta or severed finger is given to the patient for disposal.
Medical waste pathogens, which are disease-causing microorganisms, make waste very dangerous when released into the environment.
Masamayor cited World Health Organization studies on specific infections caused by the improper disposal of hospital-medical wastes.
These include parasitic infections, airways and lungs infections, skin infections, meningitis, bacteremia, infections on reproductive organs, HIV and hepatitis B and C viruses, and hemorrhagic fever.
Medical waste can contain sharps that may contain blood contaminated with viruses that cause AIDS and hepatitis B and C.
Health workers, waste collectors and scavengers are vulnerable to puncture injuries from sharps and, therefore, at risk of the blood-borne infections.
“Surely, the Boholanos do not want these health dangers, so let us join together in preventing, or at least minimizing, the terrible effects of medical wastes,” the capitol legislator rallied in his privilege speech.
He said unlike the existing treatment system that sterilizes the medical waste, thereby producing a wet output, the pyroclave technology results in a dry, shredded output.
Aside from being proven effective in managing hospital-medical wastes, the pyroclave facility can earn revenue for the province.
In the autoclave process, when the volume of wastes reaches 7,000 kilos, the hospital will already hire a disposal team from Cebu to whom a fee of P35 per kilo is paid, Masamayor said, based on his staff research.
He said “instead of paying the Cebu autoclave processors, the province can collect a reasonable fee from our hospitals, while ensuring our people of safer waste disposal and protecting our environment.”
Further, the SP member cited Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Waste and Management Act and another relevant law, RA 6969 or the Act to Control Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes.
This year, a Bohol branch of a Visayas funeral business was fined over P100,000 by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for open dumping and burning of its hazardous wastes in a barangay in Balilihan.
The Balilihan LGU formally filed a complaint.
SP colleagues lauded Masamayor’s concern, which is now jointly studied by two committees led by the Committee on Health and Public Sanitation, which is chaired by Board Member Jade Bautista. (Ven rebo Arigo)