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Used face masks to be managed as medical waste

There is need for the Government to come up with proper methods of disposal of used face masks to enhance control of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking to KNA from his office this morning, the Director of National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) Mr Stephen Wambua observed that used mask disposal is a challenge and will remain so as long as the matter is not resolved not only at the national level, but also at the household level.

“Used face masks is a big challenge down to the household levels because everyone is using the same trash bin for all garbage and the garbage collectors also mix the used masks with other waste, when it should be isolated in the first place, and disposed separately as medical waste.”

Improper disposal of PPEs has been a challenge even in hospitals because some hospitals lack enough room for garbage and hospital waste disposal. This therefore could easily be contributing to the rise of Covid-19 cases even through medical facilities.

“Currently we have four major hospitals which are also major generators of used face mask waste. They include Kiambu Level 5, Thika, Gatundu South and Tigoni hospitals where the waste is awaiting incineration and further assistance and guidelines about used mask disposal. We are thankful and grateful to the four hospitals for complying as the move will go a long way in reducing the masks that have been discarded by people,” said Mr Wambua.

The 4 major public hospitals in the county have developed strategies and now they have specific staff personnel’s who are tasked to handle Covid waste alone.

He further emphasized the importance of treating used facemasks as medical waste for it is only then, that people will be conscious enough to handle it as dangerous waste and will value and care more for their lives.

“People should treat these PPEs especially the used facemasks as hazardous medical waste that needs to be carefully disposed of through incineration,” he said.

He revealed that NEMA was working with other stakeholders in the health sector to find better ways of used facemasks disposal and provide a long-term solution for the same, which is both environmentally friendly and healthy to its people.

However, Wambua believes the long-term solution will be workable only if people start treating used facemasks as hazardous medical waste.

By Mercy Ericka

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