Private Clinics Defy Guidelines On Disposal of Medical Waste

2675 Views Fort Portal, Uganda

In short
The medical waste material is dumped in open places behind the clinics. The waste includes used sharp syringes, needles, surgical blades, gloves and razor blades.

Private clinics in Kabalore are violating regulations on dumping medical waste. There are more than 20 private clinics in Kabalore, but none of them has an incinerator, which forces them to dump the medical waste in the open. Three months ago, Kabalore district health and environment department threatened to close the clinics which fail to manage their medical waste properly.

The clinics are supposed to have incinerators or a pit where to dump the medical waste and later burn it. However, most of the clinics continue operating without the incinerators and pit but no action been taken against them. The clinics dump used cotton wool, human tissue and other medical wastes in the open which is hazardous. Other medical waste seen by our reporter includes bloody gauze pads, dried plasma bags, hypodermic needles, pill bottles and hospital documents. 

In some of the private clinics visited by Uganda Radio Network in Rwimi and Kibiito town council and fort portal municipality, the waste material was being dumped in open places behind the clinics. The waste included used syringes, needles, surgical blades and gloves. Felix Mugenyi, a nurse at his mercy clinic in Rwimi town council told URN that they have been dumping their medical waste behind the clinic for more than three years due to lack of funds to construct an incinerator. 
Asked if she is aware of the dangers of dumping waste in the open, Mugenyi says that she is, but management has nothing to do. Christine Makune, a resident of Rwimi town council says that most clinics in the area dispose of their waste in garbage skips. She says that children collect and play with used syringes and some have been pierced by the objects. Makune says is worried that some members of the community may collect the used syringes to re pack and sell them.

//Cue in: "the waste products…
Cue out: "…used up waste."//

George Tusiime, the Fort Portal municipality Environment Officer says the absence of an incinerator in private clinics has made it difficult to control medical waste. He says that dumping medical waste into open spaces poses a great health risk to residents. Tusiime says staff at the clinics was trained about storing the waste within the facility until it can be transported for final disposal, but they have failed to adhere to the guidelines. 

Charles Obita, Kabalore district health officer says that they have given the clinics a deadline of up to January 5th to up incinerators or else they will be closed and their license revoked. According to the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), poor medical waste disposal is still a big problem to the environment in Uganda. 

NEMA says the waste is often burnt in open spaces, buried in the ground or thrown away in the open, which affects the environs especially underground water and children safety.



About the author

Emmanuel Kajubu
Emmanuel Kajubu is proud to have been the first Ugandan journalist to write in depth pieces about the Tooro Kingdom institution. His knowledge of the inner workings of the Tooro Kingdom is what made him privy to the splits in the royal family. These splits almost challenged Tooro Omukama Oyo Nyimba Iguru's reign.

Culture, agriculture and the environment are just two areas of many of interest to Kajubu. As long as he has held a pen, Kajubu has also written about public policy, health and crime.

Kajubu is keen on impacting his society not just as a writer but also a trainer and mentor. Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts fall under his docket. Kajubu has been a URN staff member since 2008.