Avatar

WHO: Tens of tons of hazardous medical waste are



Reading time: 2 minutes

The response of political and health authorities around the world to the Covid-19 pandemic has produced an additional tens of thousands of tons of medical waste, which puts additional stress on systems responsible for their destruction and neutralization, while also threatening human health and the environment. , according to the latest report from the World Health Organization (WHO), quoted by Bloomberg.

To illustrate the scale of the problem, the WHO examined the fate of 87,000 tons of personal protective equipment, such as rubber gloves or masks, which were shipped worldwide through a United Nations emergency initiative between March 2020 and November 2021. Most of this equipment ended up as waste, according to the UN-run agency.

The UN initiative also delivered 140 million test kits, which generated 2,600 tons of non-infectious waste, mostly plastic, and 731,000 liters of chemical waste.

In addition, the billions of vaccine doses that have been administered globally have produced 144,000 tons of additional waste in the form of syringes, needles and cans, according to the WHO.

Globally, the problem of medical waste caused by the pandemic response is most likely to be more serious, given that WHO estimates did not take into account products purchased outside the emergency initiative, nor the disposal of disposable masks. by the general public.

The WHO also said that about a third of global healthcare facilities are not equipped to cope with the amount of waste produced. Neutralized waste disposal and disposal systems, especially in lower-income countries, pose major risks to health care workers who may be injured or come into contact with various pathogenic micro-organisms. At the same time, people living near landfills and waste disposal facilities are at risk of breathing contaminated air and access to contaminated water.