BEIRUT: The Health Ministry has begun removing excess medical waste from hospitals in Tyre that had been overflowing from storage units for nearly three weeks.
The ministry coordinated with the NGO Arcenciel, which in 2003 developed a network for medical waste treatment, to begin removing the waste from hospitals in the Tyre area after employees there complained about potentially harmful waste overflowing into open areas.
Refrigerated vans collected and transported the waste for treatment and appropriate disposal at plants in Zahle. The operation to remove all the material will be complete within a few days, according to Abbasieh Mayor Ali Ezzedine.
May Nasrallah from the private Jabal Amel Hospital thanked the ministry for “hearing our voices” and removing the waste that had been piling up for more than three weeks, when it should be treated within a maximum period of 48 hours.
While Ezzedine lauded the move, he called on the Health Ministry to find a permanent solution to the issue of medical waste treatment, saying he sought to “sustainably remove all waste” in his district.
The waste had been piling up since the closure of a medical and microbial waste treatment plant in Abbasieh late last month. The town’s mayor ordered the plant shut down, citing a threat to the environment and public health.
The Abbasieh municipality had signed a contract with a company named SafeSal in 2010 to manage the waste across the Tyre district.
At the site of the plant, the bags of waste were surrounded by swarming flies and emitted a foul smell. While the plant was built to accommodate between 18 and 20 tons of waste, more than 50 tons had accumulated without treatment, Ezzedine told The Daily Star.
Speaking to TV channel LBCI Sunday, a hospital employee said the waste contained harmful and infectious materials that posed a threat to the public. - Writing by Emily Lewis
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 19, 2019, on page 3.