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PH’s current COVID-19 medical wastes overtake disposal capacity

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reported that the Philippines’ existing medical waste disposal capability could not keep up with current generation levels last Monday, September 13.

Environmental Management Bureau Director, Eng. Visminda Osorio indicated during a meeting with the House Appropriations Committee that, in June 2018, garbage created in healthcare settings weighed over 634 million metric tons, containing test kits and PPEs.

Osorio stated that they had recorded 5.6 million metric tons of CO2 emissions every year. On June 20, 2021, the total trash capacity of TSD’s (treatment, storage, and disposal) facilities grew by around 11.3% compared to their pre-expansion total waste capacity.

Osorio recommended that healthcare waste facilities use disinfection procedures before disposal.

He also added that for some parts of the state that do not have any TSD facilities, as specified by the Department of Health healthcare waste management procedure, the residents should do options like safe burial or concrete vaulting on the property.

Secretary Leones said that regions lacking appropriate facilities will now be required to handle the hospital waste treatment themselves.

“We’ve already spoken with the local government units and are waiting for confirmation from the DILG so that we may offer assistance to the local government units as they look for ways to deal with these PPEs,” he added.

Leones stated that the DENR acknowledges the rise in medical waste because of the pandemic.

Almora noted that the DENR and the Department of Health (DOH) had issued regulations that specify that hospitals must clearly distinguish between regular hospital trash and COVID-19 waste. And because of the increase in COVID-19 cases, some institutions are likely already ignoring these guidelines.

Benny Antiporda, the undersecretary for solid waste management, announced that the DENR would develop a waste management plan for COVID-19 and hazardous waste in 2020.

According to Antiproda, a memo circular released by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) a memo circular released by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) regarding waste disposal protocols is not followed by all LGUs.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire advised healthcare facilities to properly dispose of medical waste, which she described as dangerous and potentially harmful to people.

DOH will issue a warning to healthcare facilities that will not follow the healthcare waste disposal regulations.

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