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County uses microwave technology to safely dispose COVID-19 PPEs
Globally, the increased uses of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to secondary environmental catastrophes, if not well managed and disposed of.
However, in Nakuru County, a microwave incinerator at the Nakuru Level 5 Hospital has come in handy in ensuring a safe disposal system of the PPEs and other hazardous wastes to save the environment and protect the public from impending health threats.
The Shs90 million Healthcare Waste Management Microwave and Shredder Machine was installed in 2018 through a collaboration between the County and the National Government with a grant from the Belgium government.
Chief Public Health Officer at the Nakuru Level 5 Hospital, Ms Florence Basweti said the hospital used to burn its waste in open pits and would attract human and animal scavengers. She added that the machine that treats over 250- 300 Kgs of waste per hour has improved the hospital’s general cleanliness.
The Hospital’s Medical Superintendent Dr Aisha Maina said the inadequate and inappropriate handling of healthcare waste may have serious public health consequences such as Cancers and a significant impact on the general environment.
Dr Aisha said the machine has helped the biggest referral facility in the region manage PPEs disposal from its COVID-19 isolation and treatment facilities. She added that the machine also manages waste from private and learning facilities in the County and has safely handled 1,005 tonnes of medical waste in the last three years.
Mr John Ochieng, a machine operator at the facility said all workers are well kitted and trained on waste and machine handling to avert disease transmission and hazardous chemical exposure while at work.
He explained that the emerging microwave technology treats biohazardous waste through shredding and later sterilized in sets of microwaves and heated in chambers with temperatures of above 100 degrees to set safety standards and beyond before the waste is safely disposed or recycled by making fencing poles.
In 2016, the County was on the spot after private facilities dumped hazardous raw medical waste at the Giotto Dumpsite in Nakuru Town West sub-County. About 10 – 25 per cent of the medical wastes – sharps, blood transfusion catheters, cotton swabs, human tissues – are highly infectious.