About the Project
The health sector is a major source of dioxins and mercury in the global environment primarily as a result of medical waste incineration and the breakage and improper disposal of mercury-containing devices such as thermometers and sphygmomanometers. The Stockholm Convention requires countries that are parties to the convention to give priority consideration to waste treatment processes, techniques and practices that avoid the unintentional formation and release of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as dioxins. However, many countries lack the ability or resources to comply with these obligations.
This project is assisting seven countries - Argentina, India, Latvia, Lebanon, Philippines, Senegal and Vietnam - in developing and sustaining best healthcare waste management practices in a way that is both locally appropriate and globally replicable. An additional project component in Tanzania will develop, test and disseminate affordable and effective alternative healthcare waste treatment technologies appropriate to conditions in much of sub-Saharan Africa. The project's ultimate goal is to protect public health and the global environment from the impacts of dioxin and mercury releases.
In each participating country, this project is creating model healthcare facilities or programs through collaborations with hospitals, smaller clinics, rural health and/or central waste treatment facilities. The project focuses primarily on activities such as waste minimization, promoting the use of non-burn waste treatment technologies, improved waste segregation practices and the use of appropriate alternatives to mercury-containing devices.
If replicated nationally and sustained, best practices and techniques initiated during the project's implementation are expected to reduce the release of an estimated 187 g TEQ (toxic equivalency) of dioxins and 2,910 kg of mercury to the environment each year from participating countries' healthcare sectors.
Specifically, this four-year project begun in mid-2008 will achieve:
- the establishment of model healthcare facilities to exemplify best practices in healthcare waste management;
- the deployment and evaluation of non-incineration healthcare waste treatment technologies appropriate to each facility's needs;
- the development, testing, manufacture and deployment of affordable, small-scale non-incineration technologies for use in sub-Saharan Africa;
- the introduction of mercury-free devices in model facilities, evaluation of their acceptability and efficacy, and development and dissemination of awareness-raising materials;
- the establishment or enhancement of training programs to build capacity for implementation of best practices and appropriate technologies beyond the model facilities;
- the review of relevant policies and seeking of agreement by relevant authorities on recommended updates or reformulations if needed; and
- the dissemination of project results regionally and globally.
The Global Environment Facility is funding this project to demonstrate the effectiveness of improved healthcare waste management practices and technologies in order that other Stockholm Convention signatory countries may use these models as they set their own national healthcare waste management priorities.