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The environment is at risk from healthcare waste from COVID|

The environment is at risk from healthcare waste from COVID|

According to the agencyGlobal analysis of healthcarewastein in the context of COVID-19 – status, impacts, and recommendations,the mainly plastic trashthreatenshuman and environmental health,and exposesa dire need to improvewastemanagement practices.

The ubiquitous symbol of the pandemic, which has seen discarded masks littering roadsides, beaches and pavements, is the sight of them being thrown away, has become a symbol of its ongoing spread.

Tedros Adhanom, chief of the agency, spoke to journalists in Geneva. He stated that thereportis a reminder.Although the pandemic is the worst health crisis of the century, it is also connected to many other challenges facing countries..

The estimates are based upon the 87,000 tonnes (or PPE) of personal protective equipment (PPE), that was procured between March 2020andNovember 20,21 and shipped via a joint UN emergency initiative. Most of the equipment is expected to end up as waste.

This is just an indication of the problem’s scale for the agency. It does not consider any of the following: COVID-19Commodities purchased outside of the initiative, norwaste generated by the public, like disposable masks,

COVID fallout

Theanalysispointsout that over 140 million test kits, with a potential to generate 2,600 tonnes of non-infectiouswaste(mainly plastic)-and 731,000 litresof chemicalwaste(equivalent to one-third of an Olympic-size swimming pool-have been shipped.

However,Globally, over 8 billion doses vaccines have been administered144,000Toxics of additionalwastein, in the form syringes and needles, totalling tonnes

As countries and the UN faced immediate challenges in securing and quality-assuring supplies PPE, less attention was paid and resources were allocated to the safe and sustainable disposal of this waste.

For theExecutive Directorof WHODr Michael Ryan, sHealth Emergency Programme, believes that this type protection is vital but it is also crucial to ensure that it is safe and doesn’t have an adverse effect on the environment.

This means that you have effective management systems in place.

Resources are scarce

Today,30% of healthcare facilities (60% in the least developed countries), are not equipped to handle wasteloads.Including the additionalwaste.

According to WHO, this could expose health workers and others to needle injuries, burns, and pathogenic microorganisms. Communities living near landfills or wastedisposal sites that are poorly managed can be affected by contaminated air from burningwaste, poor quality water, and disease-carrying pests.

TheDirectorforEnvironment, Climate Change and Health at WHO,MariaNeira,believes the pandemic has forced the world to reckon withthis problem.

Significant change at all levels, from the global to the hospital floor, in how we manage the healthcarewastestream,is a basic requirement of climate-smart health care systems, she said.

Recommendations

The report lays out a set of recommendations,includingeco-friendly packaging andshipping;purchasingsafe and reusable PPE, made ofrecyclable or biodegradable materials; investment in non-burnwastetreatment technologies; and investments in the recycling sector to ensure materials, like plastics, can have a second life.

For WHOThe health crisis presents an opportunity to strengthen national policies and regulations, change behaviours, and increase government budgets.

Dr Anne Woolridge (Chair of Health CareWasteWorking Group) noted that there is an increasing awareness that health investments must consider climate and environmental implications.

She explained that safe and rational use PPE will not only reduce environmental damage from waste but also help to save money, reduce supply shortages and support infection prevention through changing behaviours.

See Also

Pandemic update

Last Sunday, January 30, marked two years since WHO declared COVID-19 as a public health emergency international concern. It is the highest level international law has deemed alarming.

At the time, there were only 100 cases and no deaths outside China.

Two years later, there have been more than 370,000,000 cases and more than 56 million deaths. The WHO claims that these numbers are exaggerated.

Nearly 90 million Omicron variant cases have been reported since its identification just 10 weeks ago. That’s more than any other year in 2020.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is the WHO Director-General. He stated that there is a belief in certain countries that, because vaccines are highly transmissible and less severe, it is impossible to prevent transmission.

He said that nothing could be further away from the truth.

He said that WHO does not call for any country to go back to lockdown. However, all nations should continue protecting their citizens using every tool in their toolkit, and not just vaccines.

It is premature for any country to declare victory or surrender.He said so.

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