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Hospitals generate 127 tons of biomedical waste every year
Source: Arab News, Date: September , 2013
Hospitals in the Kingdom pump out 127 tons of
biomedical waste annually, local media reported.There is also a 1.13-kg
production rate of biomedical waste per bed per day and an average of 0.08 kg
produced per visit at medical centers, Abdullah Asiri, director of infection
control at the Ministry of Health, said.Biomedical waste consists of solids,
liquids, sharp objects and laboratory waste that are potentially infectious or
Disposal of biomedical waste remains a key goal for the Ministry of Health,
which is making efforts to address the issue, notably in medical centers in
remote areas.Penalties are imposed on private medical facilities if it becomes
evident that they are throwing away medical waste arbitrarily. These penalties
range from closure of the facility to the imposition of fines. For
government-owned medical facilities, penalties will cover those responsible for
negligence in accordance with regulations.
According to experts, biomedical waste is considered the most hazardous
environmental pollutant if not properly managed, especially in the stages of
separation, transport and processing. Human
remnants are normally buried, while others are carefully burned using
high-quality burners at temperatures reaching 1,200 degrees Celsius. Only
trained personnel can deal with such waste, experts say.
Kamal Abu Rukba, manager at Musadiyya Maternal and Pediatrics Hospital in
Jeddah, said the risks associated with medical waste are not limited to medical
and janitorial staff, but extend to patients, visitors and those involved in
waste collection and disposal.
He categorized medical waste into two major areas: Health hazards related to
infectious diseases and radioactive cancer-causing and environmentally
hazardous material, which leads to air, earth and water pollution.
Mohammed Halawani, a consultant in infection control and hospital epidemiology
at the Health Department in Makkah, said trained personnel operated specialized
vehicles fully equipped with safety devices to transport medical waste from
government-owned and private hospitals. This waste goes to the processing
center of a contracted company, where waste is processed based on approved
technologies and measures.He said infections do not occur directly and
spontaneously from biomedical waste unless a person is directly exposed to waste
in the form of cotton, gauze and bedsheets that are clearly contaminated with
blood or body fluids.
However, human remnants such as amputated body parts are disposed of by keeping
them in the morgue and later placing them in specialized bags until they are
buried with the knowledge and control of municipalities, he pointed out.
Experts say biomedical waste differs from other types of hazardous waste, such
as industrial waste, as it comes from biological sources or is used in the
diagnosis, prevention or treatment of diseases. Common producers of biomedical
waste include hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes, medical research
laboratories, offices of physicians, dentists, veterinarians, home health care
facilities and funeral homes.
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