Too many masks: WHO cites excess waste from COVID-19 response

GENEVA – The World Health Organization says the overuse of gloves, “moon suits” and the use of billions of masks and vaccine syringes to help stop the spread of coronavirus has created a huge healthcare waste worldwide.

The United Nations health agency on Tuesday reported that tens of thousands of tons of excess medical waste had strained waste management systems and threatened both health and the environment, pointing to an “urgent need.” to improve those systems and get a response from both government and citizens. .

“Part of the message to the public is to become a more conscious consumer,” said Dr. Margaret Montgomery, technical officer with WHO’s water, sanitation, hygiene and health unit. “In terms of volume, it’s huge.”

“We find that people are wearing PPE excessively,” Montgomery said, referring to personal protective equipment.

The agency says the majority of the roughly 87,000 tonnes of such equipment – including what she calls a “moon suit” and gloves – was obtained between March 2020 and November 2021 for the battle. COVID-19 battle has become waste. More than 8 billion doses of vaccines used globally have generated an additional 143 tons of waste in syringes, needles and safety boxes.

Dr Michael Ryan, WHO’s head of emergencies, said in a statement: “It is paramount to provide healthcare workers with the right (protective gear).” “But it’s important to ensure that it can be used safely without affecting the surroundings.”

In the statement, Dr Anne Woolridge of the International Solid Waste Association said the “safe and rational use” of personal protective equipment would reduce harm to the environment, save money, reduce shortages. supply shortages can occur and help prevent infection “by changing behaviour.”

WHO has made recommendations such as using “environmentally friendly” packaging and shipping as well as reusable equipment and materials that are recyclable or biodegradable.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said excess waste has the potential to expose healthcare workers to “injuries, burns, needle-stick infections and impacts communities living near landfills and poorly managed waste disposal sites”.

The agency calls for investment in “zero-burning waste” technologies. It reports that 30% of healthcare facilities worldwide – and 60% in the least developed countries – were ill-equipped to handle existing waste, even before the COVID-19 pandemic- 19 causes them to explode.

Copyright © 2022 of the Associated Press. Copyright Registered. Too many masks: WHO cites excess waste from COVID-19 response

Dais Johnston

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