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Hospitals struggle to dispose of waste


Ntsoaki Motaung

The two government hospitals, Berea and Motebang, are struggling to dispose of waste, District Medical Officer (DMO) for Berea Dr Liketso Mochochoko admitted this week.

In an interview with Newsday, Dr Mochochoko Berea district hospital produces more waste than they could dispose of daily with their medical waste incinerator.

As a result, medical waste accumulates.

“What is happening is that due to the small size of our incinerator, we are unable to burn the waste quickly as it comes. This leads to the accumulation of waste. However, the situation is still under control,” Dr Mochochoko said.

He further indicated that the incinerator sometimes breaks and this, he said, worsens the problem.

“In such cases, the Lesotho Millennium Development Agency (LMDA) sometimes helps us by taking the waste to other hospitals where the machine is working,” he said.

Another challenge was that they sometimes run short of diesel for the incinerator.

Dr Mochochoko was however quick to state that the waste could not cause any health hazards because it was still “contained”.

But if the situation worsens, and some of the waste gets blown away by the wind, that could cause problems, he said.

The people were left astonished last week when a picture showing what commentators said was a mountain of deadly medical waste at the Motebang hospital trended on social media last week.

Many wondered what would happen if people who lived near the hospital could rummage through the rubbish heap desperately hunting for recyclables to sell.

Dr Pusetso Topo, DMO for Leribe, also confirmed that Motebang hospital was struggling to dispose of its medical waste.

Dr Topo said Leribe district had a population of more than 360, 000 people, making it the second biggest district, by the size of the population, after Maseru.

 â€œWe have 26 clinics and two hospitals which are Motebang and ‘Mamohau Hospitals. So 22 clinics out of the 26 bring their waste to Motebang hospital,” he said.

“On top of that, the hospital is part of our referral system in the north. That means we serve a huge population and this leads to high waste generated per day,” he added.

There were also private facilities in Leribe and mines that deposit their waste at the Motebang hospital, according to Dr Topo.

Like Mochochoko, Topo said the hospital produced more waste daily than they could burn. Therefore, the waste keeps accumulating.

Topo further disclosed that there was a time when there was no diesel for the incinerator for a longer time.

“It was about for four months and this led to the accumulation of waste,” he said.

“What is worse is, some of the waste is critical and has to be disposed of as soon as possible, so we have to prioritise,” he explained.

Dr Topo also revealed that the hospital did not have qualified personnel to take care of the waste. He indicated that he believes that this was the problem facing every public hospital in the country.

He explained that the government through the ministry of health was aware of the problem and had even promised the hospital a bigger incinerator.            

According to the National health care waste management plan of 2004, healthcare services result in the production of wastes that if not properly managed, have the potential of adversely affecting the health of healthcare workers and the general public due to their hazardous nature.

The Infection Control and Waste Management Plan (ICWMP) 2016says the Health Care Waste Management Policy (June 2010) embodies the vision of Health Care Waste Management in Lesotho, essentially as to minimise the adverse impacts of HCW on the environment and on public health in a sustainable way that will reflect a balance of the economic, social and ecological needs of Lesotho.

“Its vision, mission, and overall objectives are expressed in twelve policy statements which cover, Prevention of Pollution of Natural Resources and Waste Minimisation and Recycling.”

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