Call for proper medical waste disposal as country marks Environment Health Day


Rwandans need to observe proper medical waste management to ensure environmental health.The appeal was made during activities to mark the World Environmental Health Day yesterday.The day was marked under the theme: “Environmental Health Inequality”.

“This day is important because micro-organisms are everywhere and can affect us. So maintaining a clean environment is paramount in preventing diseases,” said Enock Karekezi, from the Ministry of Health’s Department of Environmental Health.

He said people living outside urban areas have access to cleaner air due to lesser pollution, while people living far away from hospitals, factories and landfills also enjoy a healthier environment because of less waste in their vicinity.

Karekezi pointed out that health care waste management  is a major concern, adding that the ministry has injected Rwf1.5 billion in the purchase of seven incinerators for referral hospitals and one for the Mageragere site.

A moderate incinerator burns 60 kilogrammes of waste per hour, he said.

Dr Wim Schonbee, a physician at Gahini Hospital, explains that an incinerator burns needles and blood stains that may cause Hepatitis B if they get into contact with the human body.

“The incinerator treats the smoke from burning the waste and releases it high up in the sky so it has no immediate effect on the environment,” Schonbee said.

However, the smoke released shouldn’t be black as this is dangerous.

Engineer Joshua Nsabimana, of King Faisal Hospital, said incinerators are the best option to dispose of health care waste.

Incinerators have a primary chamber to burn the waste introduced and then a secondary chamber to burn the resulting black smoke s0 it is released when white. That way the combustion is complete, Nsabimana explained.

He added that clean plastic waste is recycled at the recycling plants but if the plastic contains medical waste that has to be disposed of, it is burnt at above the minimum heat of 500 degrees to avoid the creation of dioxin emissions which can cause environmental destruction.

If the incinerators are well used, they can protect the environment from poor disposal of waste, open air burning, and control diseases.

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