SAFETY FIRST

MP bids for medical waste disposal law to contain diseases

Kesses MP says hospital waste expose people to risk of infection as they have been in contact with diseased people

In Summary

• Proposed law also seeks to create a facility that will ensure wastes collected from different points are treated and disposed of effectively. 

• WHO warned that over 30,000 new HIV infections result from contact with contaminated materials – especially surgical needles. 

Kesses Member of Parliament Dr Swarup Mishra during a press conference at Parliament on 11th.September.2019
Kesses Member of Parliament Dr Swarup Mishra during a press conference at Parliament on 11th.September.2019
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

Kesses MP Swarup Mishra has proposed a bill setting standards for disposal of medical waste saying the refuse is partly to blame for the spread of diseases.

Mishra wants hospitals across the country as well as private clinics confined to a standard procedure when dealing with medical waste.

The law will define standards required for disposal of biological debris from surgical procedures, blood, pharmaceutical equipment and other contaminated medical items–syringes, scalpels and gloves. 

 

Further, the proposed legislation seeks to create a facility that will ensure wastes collected from different points are treated and disposed of effectively. 

Mishra, a surgeon, argues that due to poor segregation practices, processing, treatment and disposal of bio-medical wastes, up to 50 per cent of waste in health facilities in Kenya is infectious.

The Hospital Waste Management proposal is likely to usher a debate on whether hospitals have been observing codes regulating the disposal of hazardous waste.

The MP said diseases easily spread due to poor management of waste that is already in contact with diseased persons and tissues. 

“The items are dangerous. We have to dispose of them using a standard procedure to prevent their contact with vectors that spread diseases to different parts of the population.”

Mishra, who is the vice chairman of the Health Committee, said the proposed law will also define standards not only for discarding waste but also set requirements for transporting the same. 

Currently, most medical wastes find their way to major dumpsites exposing those in contact with them to infections. 

“If the bill is enacted, it will prevent, reduce and mitigate the likely risks of transmission of infectious communicable and occupational diseases to the medics, paramedics and support staff,” the MP said.

The surgeon cited the case of plastics used to store blood which end up in garbage bins frequented by scavengers looking for plastics to recycle.

“The spread of cross-border diseases such as Ebola emanates from poor waste management. It is for this reason that we want even a small doctor's room to have a proper waste management system,” Mishra said.

A number of private hospitals, clinics as well as small health centres in the rural areas do not have incinerators despite generating heaps of hazardous waste.

The World Health Organization, in an earlier report, warned that over 30,000 new HIV infections result from contact with contaminated materials – especially surgical needles.

Wastes produced by health facilities are categorised into infectious, pathological, sharps, pharmaceutical, radioactive, pressured containers, chemical waste and heavy metals.

Existing regulations require every facility to have a proper waste management plan with functionality such as packaging, segregation, labelling, transport, tracking, treatment and disposal. 

The requirement is that healthcare waste should be treated prior to disposal to ensure protection from the potential hazards posed. 

“To be effective, treatment must reduce or eliminate the risk present in the waste, so that it no longer poses a hazard to persons who may be exposed to it,” the regulations read.

Edited by R.Wamochie