The environment in the Dak Lak central highland province is still at risk from pollution due to discharges from local hospitals.
The province now has 24 hospitals, four of which are private, providing more than 4,400 beds, according to a report byTai Nguyen and Moi Truong (Resources and Environment) newspaper.
According to the report, the total medical waste being discharged from the hospitals in the province is estimated at nearly one tonne of hazardous medical waste, and another 4.5 tonnes of normal waste, each day.
Twenty hospitals under the provincial Health Department have been equipped with waste treatment systems, but four others do not have such equipment.
But the work of handling waste has not been entirely successful, as expected, causing environmental pollution.
Many incinerators at hospitals have been damaged, or overloaded, leading to numerous incidents during the incineration process.
An incident, for instance, occurred in a general hospital in Krong Nang district recently.
Trouble in the operation of the waste treatment system in the hospital caused smoke, dust, and odors to affect the area’s residents.
The households located around the hospital sent complaints to authorities to deal with the problem.
The hospital attempted to handle this, but there were fears it would recur due to the damaged equipment, the hospital’s director, Tran Ngoc Anh, was quoted as saying.
There are also concerns about increasing pollution from all hospitals located in densely populated areas, as well as waste treatment systems located in the area of hospitals, according to the report.
Meanwhile, the ability to manage medical waste and the environmental protection of medical staff is still limited.
According to the provincial Preventive Health Centre, medical waste, such as needles or glass medicine bottles, have not been completely treated due to the low technology of waste treatment systems.
Untreated medical waste is sometimes buried in or near hospitals.
In addition, systems to deal with liquid waste have not been fully installed in hospitals, causing serious environmental pollution.
Hospital officials have blamed shortages of funds for the failure in environmental prevention.
Moreover, dissemination, education to the public on laws related to medical waste management, and environmental protection have not been improved.
Last year, seven hospitals were fined due to violations in the management of medical waste.
The report said the hospitals want more support from the Health Department in upgrading infrastructure and supplying and training hospital staffs, and advanced technology to handle the current shortcomings.
But so far, they have not received special attention from the provincial health sector.