Risks as hospital burns medical waste in open pit

The Kenyan Standard Digital reports on the pollution risks to residents close to a hospital that is burning its medical (clinical) waste in open burn pits.

Choking smoke from burning medical waste at Molo sub county hospital poses health risk to patients in the newly constructed children and female ward. Waste disposed in the pit includes used cotton wool, syringes, gloves contaminated with blood and drips.

Despite availability of a burning chamber adjacent to the pit, medical waste dots the surface. “Individuals operating within the hospital and neighbouring community are exposed to health hazards because they inhale the smoke that’s mixed with gases,” an employee said.

The staffer said waste should be managed from operating areas and placed in different containers. He added that handlers of waste should be trained to prevent infection of medics and patients. “The waste might have been dropped by handlers while being moved from operating rooms and wards to the pit,” said the employee.

These matters are of great concern, extending to the welfare of staff and patients as well as residents living close by who may be exposed to fumes and particulate pollutants. And while considering the training of waste handlers who might drop wastes, there is obviously a need for better waste containers, and undoubtedly for improved PPE and workwear, hygiene precautions and access to care facilities in the event of an accident.

What this really needs is money, and political will to make those funds available while ensuring that having done so things are actually done right.

And take a close look at the Kenyan Standard Digital piece. Inserted into the same page is a link to another report to explain that ‘Smoking shisha has been outlawed in Rwanda’. At least someone somewhere is concerned about heath and welfare. Perhaps if clinical waste was being rolled up and smoked, then the use of burn pits would also be outlawed!


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