Healthcare waste issues highlighted in Eastern Visayas workshop

TACLOBAN CITY – The Philippine Healthcare and Mercury Wastes Management Project (PHCWMP) concluded a successful regional inception workshop in Eastern Visayas, identifying key issues in healthcare waste management and setting the stage for targeted interventions.

The two-day workshop, held on May 30-31, 2024, at the Eastern Visayas Medical Center (EVMC), was attended by representatives from the hospital’s pollution control unit, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB), and the Department of Health (DOH) Region 8.

Facilitated by the DENR-EMB Central Office and the environmental NGO BAN Toxics, the workshop aimed to address challenges in managing healthcare waste.

“After a very productive discussion with our partners here in Eastern Visayas, we have identified current issues at EVMC that require attention. These include their inadequate capacity to treat and store healthcare wastes generated daily, access to final disposal of these wastes, and the need to raise awareness among both hospital staff and the patient population regarding waste segregation,” said Jam Lorenzo, BAN Toxics’ Policy and Research Officer and the PHCWMP project manager.

The workshop included a visit to EVMC’s waste management facilities and highlighted the need for improved waste treatment and storage capacities.

EVMC, a DOH-retained tertiary hospital, generated 217.775 tons of pathological and infectious waste and 191.345 tons of general waste in 2023.

Notably, M501 waste increased threefold in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023, rising from 40.66 tons to 138.27 tons.

Yanina Antusada, Environmental Management Specialist II of EMB’s Hazardous Waste Management Section, emphasized the widespread challenge of M501 waste storage and disposal, exacerbated during the pandemic.

“We want this project to be successful, and our goal is to ensure the sustainability of the programs implemented beyond the project’s five-year term,” she said.

DOH Region 8 HCWM Program Manager Ma. Elena Joy Villarosa expressed gratitude for EVMC’s selection as a project partner. She highlighted the need for policy reviews to address potential gaps in waste management practices, stressing that waste management is a shared responsibility among hospitals and local government units.

The PHCWMP, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and administered by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), aims to reduce hazardous chemical releases from healthcare wastes through environmentally sound practices. The project’s first year will focus on policy reviews and baseline data collection to guide interventions scientifically.

“It is not just EVMC and the environment that will benefit from this project, but also the communities residing near the hospital. We want everyone to become aware that healthcare waste management is not just the responsibility of government agencies; everyone should play a part,” Villarosa added.

The PHCWMP’s third regional inception meeting is scheduled for June 10 in the National Capital Region, following its initial meeting in Region 2 on May 23.


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