The discharge of hospital waste water into the community was just one of the critical problems in a project on hospital waste in northern Vietnam. Another serious difficulty was the shortage of water resources. The problems were obvious: hospital waste dumped beside streams and on the hospital grounds; no sharp-boxes for used syringes; reuse of culture discs; poor sanitary conditions, etc.
Hospital waste water discharged directly into the rice fields and the environment may contain hazardous chemicals and contagious microorganisms. These not only constitute a current problem to the environment and to humans but may also contain active pharmaceutical substances such as antibiotics. In the long term this may lead to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Focus on straightforward measures
The project, which included 12 hospitals, began in 2006 with a preliminary environmental and health assessment. From the very start the assessment focused on four main areas: solid waste, effluent waste, control of infections, and training of hospital staff. The overall objective was to reduce health hazards, not only for staff and patients but for the local community as well.
DHI has recommended a number of measures, including purchase of equipment for storing syringes, needles, etc. Other measures included installation of washbasins on the hospital grounds and storage rooms for contagious waste. The most important task, however, was to train the hospital staff in handling and segregation of hospital waste.
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