Everyone wants to be greener and that includes hospitals and other medical care facilities. Developing alternatives to traditional medical waste disposal, especially in under-served areas, isn’t easy. An efficient and experienced facilities management company can help medical centres develop greener practices for healthcare facility management in Africa and around the globe.
Understanding Medical Waste
Before you can understand how healthcare facility management in Africa and around the world can help you run green hospitals; it helps to review the various types of medical waste. Medical waste is defined as waste products generated in the process of providing healthcare for humans or animals. This includes used bandages and bedding, used culture plates, tissue samples, and ‘sharps’ (items such as used scalpels, needles, and the like.)
Traditional Means of Disposal and Their Drawbacks
Traditional means of medical waste disposal have not been very eco-friendly. Soft materials such as used bandages and bedding are traditionally burned. Harder materials such as used needles are usually sanitised then disposed of in traditional landfills. Sanitation usually involves the use of on an autoclave (a closed chamber that sanitises by use of heat and steam) or via a bleach solution.
There are significant problems with both methods of disposal. Burning of medical waste causes air pollution, which can affect patients, the surrounding community, and wildlife. Hospital-based incinerators are especially problematic because they are usually in densely-populated areas and because their smoke can contain toxic chemicals like mercury.
Bleach-based sanitation is often no better. Bleach is toxic to most living things, and even in small quantities, the use of bleach can contaminate water supply. Plus, especially in areas where space is at a premium, even properly-sanitised waste fills up landfills too quickly for companies to keep up with.
Proposed Solutions: Recycling of Sanitised Medical Waste
Though medical care providers have shown understandable reluctance to reuse materials from medical waste, sharps, when properly sanitised, can be recycled for use in other industries, especially because many of them contain high-quality, high-value steel. Autoclave sanitation produces low emissions and recycling helps prevent landfill build-up. An experienced facility management company can help you set up a recycling program.
Air Scrubbers for Incinerators
Another solution being investigated by healthcare facility management in Africa and around the world is air scrubbers for incinerators. Soft medical waste such as used bandages will not stand up to sanitation, and burning is often the best way to remove contaminants from such materials. Air scrubbers remove toxic chemicals from the resultant smoke and prevent air pollution. Since installation can be complicated, consider using an experienced healthcare management company; such companies can use the economics of scale to provide services.
Dr. Tunji Olowolafe (also known as Olatunji Olowolafe) the CEO of Deux Projects International, is one of the world’s leading experts in healthcare facility management in Africa and around the world. Dr. Tunji Olowolafe has been helping to build and maintain hospitals and research facilities for many years and has made great strides in improving the overall quality standards of Nigeria’s healthcare system, helping the country’s citizens get the healthcare they need to lead healthy, productive lives.
Written by: Josephs interest in healthcare and infrastructure development began in college and developed through a period of volunteering in both Africa and South America. Now a professional writer, Joseph closely follows the work of Dr. Tunji Olowolafe CEO of Deux Projects focusing on the long term gains in economic development that comes with improved healthcare standards and the infrastructure developments needed.