BY Lagi Keresoma
APIA: MONDAY 21ST OCTOBER 2013: Body parts here, used needles there, syringes, surgical gloves….… waste collectors at Ministry of Health are being taught to sort waste into their proper categories.
A two-day workshop dedicated to the task started this morning.
Principal Officer of the Occupational Hazards Sector/ Hazards & Risks Assessment, Manufeao Lameko Tesimale said staff need to know the different kinds of medical wastes such as pharmaceutical products, pathological waste, materials used in surgery and treatment (needles, syringes, plastics etc.) body parts.
“But is it also very important that those handling wastes should be well protected from contracting any diseases,” said Manufeao.
He said it is easy for waste collectors to contract diseases such as Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
“That is why the Ministry is looking at enforcing proper gear used by those collecting wastes.”
According to Ualesi Silva, Assistant Chief Executive Officer (ACEO) of Health, only one hospital, a district one, “has some minor problems in terms of segregation and containment, while all other hospitals have shown promising progress in segregation and containing of wastes.”
“They used to dump them all together before,” said Silva.
In the past medical waste were buried in a certain area at the Tafaigata rubbish dump, but now all are incinerated there.
Ministry of Health hopes that Planning and Urban Management Agency (PUMA), a division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, which handles waste disposal enforces proper gear for waste collectors.
“We (MOH) only advise MNRE on certain regulations and policies needed, but the enforcing of it falls on MNRE,” said Manufeao.
There is a lack of team work amongst waste collectors and clinical staff in getting better at segregating waste according to a colour code system which clearly indicates the types of wastes that go into certain bins according to the colour of the bins, said Ms Silva.
The workshop on waste disposal has these three focal points:
* Infection Control standards and applications to their roles as health care workers.
* Occupational Health & Safety in terms of risks and hazards assessment.
* Health Care Waste Management processes from source of generation to final disposal.