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Group seeks random checks on labs, hospitals

AUTHORITIES must conduct random monitoring on laboratorities and hospitals on their strict compliance to COVID-19 waste management regulations.

This was the call made by environment-advocate group, EcoWaste Coalition following an incident in Manila wherein used rapid test kits were seen on a viral video, accidentally scattered in M. de la Fuente St. from a punctured trash bag attached to a pedicab.

Jove Benosa, the group’s zero waste campaigner, said that the incident must rouse authorities into conducting random monitoring of compliance to government-issued health care waste management guidelines.

In view of the incident, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno ordered the closure of the CP Diagnostic Center, the pinpointed source of the littered test kits, while it was required to explain why administrative charges should not be filed against the Quiapo-based laboratory.

In its show cause order, the Manila city government said that the facility violated provisions of RA 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and RA 6969, or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act.

As per Department Memorandum No. 2020-0170 signed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, “all health care wastes generated in the management and treatment of suspect, probable and confirmed COVID-19 patients should be considered as infectious waste.”

“Random compliance inspections are needed to ensure that the regulated community such as hospitals, clinics, laboratories, quarantine centers, barangay health centers and related facilities are faithfully adhering to the safe management of health care waste, especially during the coronavirus pandemic,” Benosa said.

Benosa added that the facilities that generate COVID-19 wastes should follow infectious waste segregation, storage, collection, transportation and disposal protocols to reduce health and safety risks.

“As health care wastes generated in these facilities are deemed infectious, facility administrators must ensure that such wastes are managed properly by designated and trained personnel,” he said.

“The responsibility for collecting COVID-19 wastes should not be left in the hands of unauthorized individuals and unaccredited treatment, storage and disposal (TSD) companies,” Benosa added.

TSD facilities, which are accredited by the Environmental Management Bureau, are the facilities where hazardous wastes are stored, treated, recycled, reprocessed or disposed of.

From April to July 2020, the Philippines generated 19, 187.7 metric tons of infectious health care waste based on a special permit to transport submitted by accredited treaters to the EMB.