Loophole in management of medical waste

According to the Ministry of Health’s report, the country has over 13,000 medical facilities generating around 380 tons of medical wastes per day, including 40 tons of dangerous wastes.
Excluding waste water discharged in the environment every day, hundred tons of medical wastes was illegally thrown into the environment.  Le Ngoc Tung private medical center in the southern province of Tay Ninh has been lately detected to bury secretly more than 60 tons of medical wastes.
The Medical Environment Management Department under the Ministry of Health fined Le Ngoc Tung Clinic and ordered to suspend operation. The hospital is not the first one to be detected to breach environment regulations by throwing medical waste. The Ministry of Health has fined many medical facilities.
In Ho Chi Minh City, hospitals produced hundred tons of medical wastes daily. Cho Ray Hospital – a leading hospital in the country alone, it generates an average of 8 tons of waste a day including 1 tons of medical wastes and the remaining waste from daily activities. The hospital manager said that dangerous waste was treated first with chemicals before it was transported to gather with other waste.
However, since the hospital admits a large number of patients; accordingly, it generates so much waste every day and treating such waste is beyond the hospital’s reach, they said.
Some hospitals are treating the waste complying with the regulations; others do not meet the requirement.
Just round 40 percent of the medical waste from hospitals in the country have waste treatment system before discharging waste into the environment. 25 public big hospitals don’t have the waste treatment system; half of medical facilities in provinces don’t have the system also and up to 60 percent of facilities in districts don’t have.
Environment Police Department said that financial sanction has not deterred violation.
Le Van Chinh from the Medical Environment Department under the Ministry of Health said that as per the government’s decree for environment protection, inspectors will fine VND 700-800 million (US$32,095-36,680) for violating activities including burying or discharging dangerous waste into the environment.
Or other sanctions including suspending the operation from 6 to 12 months do not deter facilities from violating, he added.
Even Le Ngoc Tung Medical Center was just fined VND1 billion (US$45,969) meanwhile environment experts said that the private hospital could be sued.

By Tuong Lam - Translated by Anh Quan

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