Reports from local health authorities showed that only about 54 per cent of the hospitals were equipped with wastewater treatment systems, the Ministry of Health has said.
Speaking at a meeting on environmental protection in healthcare services on Wednesday, Associate Professor Nguyen Huy Nga, director of the Health Environment Management Agency, said among hospitals equipped with wastewater treatment systems, the central hospitals accounted for 73 per cent of the total, provincial hospitals for 60 per cent and district hospitals for 45 per cent.
Currently, 95 per cent of the hospitals nationwide collected and classified hazardous solid waste every day.
According to the agency, the management of wastewater in hospitals and health clinics remained difficult.
Many hospitals and health clinics are facing a shortage of funds to build new wastewater treatment systems. Many wastewater treatment systems at hospitals were downgraded and needed to be upgraded or rebuilt.
The cost of a treatment system was between VND200 million (US$9,520) and VND80 billion ($3.8 million), depending on the volume of wastewater of hospitals and health clinics.
A shortage of qualified staff for medical waste management was another problem, it said.
Colonel Tran Trong Binh, deputy chief of the Ministry of Public Security’s Department of Environment Crime Prevention Police Department, said the violations of the environmental protection law in the healthcare services were complex, especially violations of medical wastewater and hazardous solid wastes.
The department, together with the inspectors of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, has discovered more than 60 cases of violations of hospitals nationwide.
Of which, some were serious. For example, in August 2007, the inspectors found that Bach Mai Hospital, Viet Nam-Germany Hospital and Cancer Hospital in Ha Noi illegally sold tonnes of hazardous solid wastes to a recycling business.
Another general health clinic in southern Ha Noi was found to have thrown foetuses after abortions and placenta into its gas hole. The clinic was fined VND223 million ($10,620) for its violation.
Dang Van Loi, deputy chief of the Department of Pollution Control, suggested that concerned authorities should cooperate to implement regular inspections of hospitals and health clinics.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment should work with the Ministry of Health to organise training courses on environmental protection for health staff, especially those at district hospitals, to minimise the activities that pollute the environment.