Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) has received medical waste microwaves, which will put an end to the facility's open burning and crude disposal of health care waste.
The medical equipment will also help to reduce environmental and public health risks, as poor healthcare waste management, from generation to disposal, exposes the population to infectious, toxic, or carcinogenic material, which has been linked to new HIV infections, hepatitis B and C spread, and cancers.
The Kenyan government, through the Ministry of Health, collaborated with the Belgian government to test non-burn technology microwaves and shredders in 10 high-volume public and private health-care facilities, including former provincial hospitals and two national referral hospitals.
Mutahi Kagwe, the Health Cabinet Secretary (CS), said during the commissioning and handover of the waste management equipment at KNH that it comes at an important time because the Covid-19 pandemic has increased waste generation due to the widespread use of disposable masks and gloves.
He acknowledged that disposing of these items has been difficult, necessitating the need for innovation and additional resources in the management of infectious waste.
Kenya, he noted, has comprehensive national environmental laws, policies, and regulations, including the Draft National E-Waste Management Strategy for the Health Sector.
Kagwe explained that the main mode of health care waste treatment in Kenya has been diesel-fired incinerators prescribed for both high and low volume health facilities, but that in most cases, the methods do not meet the criteria set out in the Waste Management Regulations 2006 and the Stockholm Convention of 2004 on Unintended Persistent Organic Pollutants (UPOPS), which aims to eliminate the pollutants.
According to the CS, the completion of the pilot phase in the ten counties is an important milestone because it serves as a benchmark for future expansion.
He urged those receiving the equipment to oversee its proper operation and maintenance, as well as to initiate and support efforts to set aside adequate funds for healthcare waste management in all health facilities throughout the country.
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