The City of Windhoek is currently constructing two medical waste treatment facilities in the northern industrial area at a cost of N$50 million.
During the groundbreaking ceremony yesterday Windhoek City Mayor Muesee Kazapua said there is a shortcoming in the current disposal and treatment of medical waste that calls for the establishment of facilities to safely treat medical waste, as the current facilities no longer have the capacity to adequately dispose of and process the amount of medical waste in the city.
Medical waste includes discarded biological products, such as blood or human tissue removed from operating rooms, morgues, laboratories or other medical facilities. It also includes bedding, bandages, syringes and other materials used in treating patients.
“The facility will be used for the disposal and processing of waste generated by medical healthcare facilities, pharmacies, veterinary services, blood transfusion and other services associated with medical care,” he said.
Kazapua further said Windhoek is no more as clean a city as it used to be – especially the informal settlements – and the failure to responsibly manage medical waste, whether in storage, transportation, treatment or the eventual disposal, presents a health risk and threat to the environment.
“Environmental management is fast becoming a central discipline worldwide and concepts such as sustainable development, cleaner production and pollution prevention are continually brought to our attention,” the city’s mayor explained.
He said the facility was designed following consultations and inputs from generators of medical waste. “The facility will be equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, carefully chosen to be able to sustainably treat most of the medical waste generated in Windhoek,” Kazapua elaborated.
The plants would also render services to surrounding towns, such as Rehoboth, Gobabis and Okahandja: “The facility will also serve as a skills transfer centre, as it will be open to other local authorities to gather experience and expertise in the sustainable management of medical waste. This will positively impact how waste is managed in Namibia as a whole,” he said.
The two plants include one wet autoclave (a pressure chamber used to sterilise equipment by subjecting them to high-pressure saturated steam) and a diesel-fired incinerator that will burn the waste material. Both systems will have air pollution cleaning equipment to ensure potential contaminants are eliminated.
Kazapua said the plants will be in operation by the end of June 2016 and the City of Windhoek will own and manage these to ensure proper treatment and disposal of medical waste, in line with established environmental standards. He said to ensure sustainability the facility would be run at a cost to the user and the tariffs will be gazetted prior to commissioning of the facility. “I therefore wish to urge all our stakeholders to make use of the facility for the safe disposal of medical waste once it is commissioned,” he said.