Clinical wastes on the rise due to Covid-19

By NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / Pic BERNAMA

EVER since the Covid-19 pandemic began in Malaysia in early February, the nation’s clinical wastes have increased by 17% compared to the monthly average from various health services institutions.

Environment Minister Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man (picture) said the ministry is striving to address the issue for the sake of the public’s health and wellbeing, especially during the current pandemic crisis.

“Through the Department of Environment (DoE), the Environment Ministry has a comprehensive system for clinical waste management since 2005 through the enforcement of Environmental Quality Regulations (Scheduled Waste) 2005.

“This means that all clinical waste will be separated at the hospital or clinic to be collected later with a special vehicle and sent for disposal at 12 incinerator facilities nationwide,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He added that all the treatment and disposal facilities are part of the essential services that are allowed to operate throughout the country during the Movement Control Order.

“The Environment Ministry will continue to monitor companies, including via the Electronic Scheduled Waste Management System to ensure all clinical waste is managed and in full compliance with the Environmental Surroundings Quality Act 1974 and the regulations under it,” he said.

To date, he revealed that there are seven organisations licensed by the DoE to handle clinical wastes produced from medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics and institutions, from collection to transportation, treatment and disposal.

“The management of clinical waste is processed in order to ensure that the waste is managed to completion and does not compromise the public health.

“All the treatment and disposal facilities are licensed under Section 18 of the Environmental Surroundings Quality Act 1974,” he said.

He stressed that non-permitted and unlicensed handling and disposal of scheduled waste is considered an offence under Section 34B of the Environmental Surroundings Quality Act 1974 and is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding five years and a maximum fine of RM500,000 if convicted.