TANZANIA – The National Environment Management Council (Nemc) has issued a critical three-month notice to health facilities nationwide to comply with relevant guidelines for medical waste disposal.

Nemc has mandated hospitals and dispensaries to ensure proper disposal facilities and procedures are in place or face severe punitive action, including indefinite suspension of operations.

The notice comes in response to improper disposal practices observed in Kigamboni and Coco Beach in Dar es Salaam and Kibaha in the Coast Region, which pose significant risks of spreading communicable diseases.

“There have been reports and observations of improper collection, transportation, and disposal of waste generated by health services in various parts of the country,” stated Hamadi Kissiwa, Nemc’s Acting Director of Compliance.

He added that a fact-finding team was dispatched to Kibaha after reports of improper medical waste disposal.

“We found remnants of medical waste burned contrary to established procedures and guidelines, which is dangerous,” Mr. Kissiwa added.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), medical waste is waste generated by healthcare activities, ranging from used needles and syringes to soiled dressings, body parts, diagnostic samples, blood, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and radioactive materials.

Mr. Kissiwa emphasized that individuals and institutions involved in healthcare services must adhere to legal requirements and regulations, as well as guidelines outlined by the health ministry.

According to the 2017 National Policy Guidelines for Healthcare Waste Management in Tanzania, health facilities are required to provide appropriate personal protective equipment to staff, ensure its use, and collect hazardous medical waste daily.

The guidelines further stipulate that healthcare waste should not be moved by hand to prevent accidents or injuries.

Health facilities must have fenced storage bays, and waste transportation on public roads must be conducted by licensed companies only.

Additionally, healthcare waste must be transported using color-coded or labeled equipment designated solely for this purpose.

Mr. Kissiwa stated that Nemc will begin inspecting health facilities with other relevant authorities.

Penalties for non-compliance will include shutting down facilities until they establish adequate infrastructure for the storage, transportation, and disposal of medical waste.

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