Tuesday’s warning by the World Health Organization (WHO), was that the large amount of medical waste generated in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is a threat to both human and environmental health.
According to a United Nations report, waste syringes and used test kits have accumulated to create thousands of tonnes medical waste, which is putting great strain on healthcare waste management.
The extra waste is “It is threatening the health of human and environment and exposing a dire need for improved waste management practices.”The statement is as follows:
As countries sought to acquire personal protective equipment (PPE), it appears that little attention is being paid to disposing of COVID-19 medical waste safely and sustainably.
The UN system procured approximately 1.5 billion units of PPE between March 2020 to November 2021. This was based on 87,000 tons. The majority of the equipment was discarded, according to the report.
“It is vital to equip health workers with the appropriate PPE. But it is equally important to ensure that the PPE can safely be used without affecting the environment. said WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan.
140 million test kit kits have been shipped. This means that 2,600 tons of mostly plastic, noninfectious waste can be generated and 731,000 L of chemical waste can be generated.
The report also stated that 144,000 tons of additional waste, such as safety boxes and syringes, were generated by the first eight billion COVID-19 vaccinations worldwide.
Based on best international practices, the WHO doesn’t recommend that healthcare providers use gloves for vaccine injectings. However, the WHO report did state that it was a common practice.
In a 71-page report, WHO acknowledged that safe management services were not available for healthcare waste even before the pandemic.
The report suggested practical solutions such as using PPE in a more rational way; using less packaging; developing and using reusable PPE; using PPE made from biodegradable material; investing in non-burnable waste treatment technology; centralizing waste disposal and investing in local PPE production.