The amount of medical waste generated in Oman has gone up considerably due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As much as 4,688 tonnes of healthcare waste was treated in 2020 compared to 4,286 tonnes in 2019, according to Jassim Mohammed al Wahaibi, head of the healthcare waste department at be’ah.
Medical waste management is one of the important pillars of health management. The sultanate, like other countries, deals with the healthcare waste of COVID-19 patients in home and institutional isolation, as well as in healthcare institutions, safely.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Wahaibi said, “The amount of medical waste has increased due to the rise in the number of institutional quarantine centres, number of patients in health institutions and medical laboratories.”
Wahaibi added that medical waste is divided into non-hazardous and hazardous wastes under which a number of categories are included depending on the degree of risk such as infectious, chemical, radioactive, domestic waste and more.
“The company deals with non-hazardous healthcare waste (HCW) like general municipal waste is treated, but the hazardous health waste, which is about 25 per cent of the total waste generated from various healthcare facilities, is dealt with and treated in the company’s healthcare waste treatment facilities with the latest global technologies,” Wahaibi informed.
“be’ah has exerted remarkable efforts to enhance the existing healthcare waste management infrastructure by enhancing operational efficiency of the HCW treatment facility in the wilayat of Amerat and establishing two other facilities, one in the wilayat of Liwa, North Batinah, and the other in the wilayat of Thumrait, Dhofar. The Amerat facility is the largest in the sultanate, with an operating capacity of 14.5 tonnes per day. As for the two facilities in North Batinah and Dhofar, the operating capacity is six tonnes per day each,” he added.
“The Governorate of Muscat produces the most hazardous healthcare waste, as the maximum number of health institutions are concentrated here, followed by the governorates of Dhofar, North Batinah and Dakhliyah. The stations are equipped with the highest specifications and are also operated according to local and international standards. Healthcare waste typically includes sharps, non-sharps, blood, body parts, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and radioactive materials – a waste stream regarded as potentially toxic.”
According to Wahaibi, be’ah lays emphasis in taking all the precautionary procedures to ensure health and safety of personnel working in healthcare waste in addition to ensuring full compliance of employees with safety procedures at the companies that operate treatment facilities.
The Ministry of Health stresses on dealing with domestic waste with caution and using the required personal protective equipment such as face mask and gloves.
Domestic waste must be placed in double bags and taken to the nearest municipal waste site. It emphasises the need to remove used personal protective equipment cautiously and washing hands thoroughly with water and soap or sterilising them.