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Modern Incinerator Enhances Management of Hazardous Health Care Waste

The installation of a modern incinerator at the Naivasha level IV hospital has revolutionized and enhanced efficiency in the handling and management of hazardous and general healthcare waste.

According to a World Health Organization [WHO] Report of 2018, 15 percent of healthcare waste collected worldwide is considered hazardous material which is either infectious, toxic, or radioactive.

WHO indicates that an estimated 16 billion injections are administered worldwide but not all the needles and syringes used are properly disposed off after use.

The data also shows that low-income countries such as Kenya generate an average of 0.2 kg of hazardous waste per hospital per day but lack adequate capacity and requisite equipment to handle it.

The organization says that proper measures to ensure safe and environmentally sound management of healthcare wastes can prevent adverse health and environmental impacts.

Informed of these concerns, the Government, last year, partnered with United Nations Development Programme [UNDP] to equip the Naivasha level IV Hospital with an Shs.30 million incinerator and waste-handling truck to boost medical waste management.

An incinerator is defined as an enclosed structure used for burning and reducing the volume of waste under controlled temperatures of over 800 degrees Celsius.

It has an in-built filtration system to treat outgoing gasses from burned materials to ensure the air released surpasses strict environmental guidelines and international emissions standards.

And living up to its billing, the installed incinerator has in one year’s period significantly enabled the hospital to properly handle and manage both its generated medical waste and of other surrounding health facilities.

According to Victor Keraa, a Public Health Officer at the facility, the modern incinerator has enhanced the efficiency of managing highly infectious medical waste and curbed the spilling of hazardous materials into the environment.

“The incinerator burns over 400 kilograms of medical waste generated by the hospital and from other healthcare facilities daily, producing an ash load of only 4kgs”, said Keraa.

Keraa said that the waste is first properly segregated at its production units and packed in secure bags marked in different color codes ranging from yellow for infectious waste, red for highly infectious waste, and yellow with black labels for radioactive waste.


The sorted waste is then transported using a safety truck to the microwave incinerator machine where the waste is burned in a closed compartment at high temperatures to ash.

Kerra said the hospital handles wastes from other surrounding public health facilities for free while the privately run entities are charged Sh 200 per kg of waste.

In addition, he said that syringes pose the greatest health risk if not properly handled with early studies from WHO showing that new HIV and Hepatitis B and C infections have been passed through unsafe injections.

According to the National Environment Management Authority, [NEMA] guidelines on medical waste management, all waste producers are legally and financially responsible for the safe handling and environmentally sound disposal of such waste.

NEMA also recommends for treatment and disposal of hazardous waste near the point of production to minimize risks involved in transport while calling for caution from waste handlers.

On his part, the hospital Bio-medical Engineer George Maina, the incinerator has cut transport costs drastically and enabled timely management of hazardous waste management.

Maina said the hospital used to incur Shs.32, 000 on costs every week, transporting the waste to Nakuru, a process which put waste handlers to risk of contamination in case of leakages.

“An incinerator is a crucial component in a health facility as it helps to manage huge volumes of hazardous waste on time and avoid spillages to the environment”, said Maina.

He said the air released to the environment after burning the waste is environmentally friendly therefore minimizing the carbon footprints in the environment and, therefore contributing to climate change mitigation.

Maina said the two workers who man and operate the facility are highly trained in the proper handling of waste management and have been equipped with proper health and safety gear.

This ambitious initiative is a key contributor to the government’s commitment to the reduction of pollution from various sources to the environment geared towards reversing the threats of climate change.

Kenya is already a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Environment and the Paris Agreement which commits and binds nations to change tact, innovate and put systems to limit global warming.

By Erastus Gichohi


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