Discarded syringes and used test kits, as well as old vaccine bottles from COVID-19, have accumulated to form tens of thousand of tonnes of medical waste. This is threatening the environment and human health, according to a World Health Organization report on Tuesday.
The material could infect health workers as coronavirus can survive on surfaces.
It was also stated that communities close to poorly managed landfills could be affected by contaminated atmosphere from burning waste, poor water quality, or disease-carrying pests.
The report calls for reforms and investments, including a reduction in plastic packaging. It also recommends the use protective gear made of reusable and recyclable materials.
It is estimated that around 87,000 tonnes (or the equivalent of several hundred blue whales) of personal protective equipment (PPE), were ordered via a UN portal from November 2021 to November 2021. Most of it is thought have ended up as trash.
The report also mentions 140 million test kits that could generate 2,600 tonnes mostly of plastic trash and enough chemical waste for one-third of an Olympic swimming lane.
It also estimates that the 8 billion global vaccine doses have generated an additional 144,000 tonnes in waste in the form glass vials and syringes.
Although the WHO report didn’t name specific instances of the most severe build-ups, it did mention challenges such as the insufficient treatment and disposal of official waste in rural India and large volumes of faecal effluent from quarantine facilities in Madagascar.
The WHO stated that around a third of healthcare facilities weren’t equipped to handle waste loads even before the pandemic. It stated that this figure was as high as 60% for poor countries.
(Excepting the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff. It was published from a syndicated feed.