Although there are several policies governing medical waste disposal, it is a pressing reality that improper waste management of its kind remains one of the top hidden health hazards. Some of this hazardous garbage are generated from diagnostic laboratories, vaccinations or immunizations, dental clinic, and medical hospitals. They classified this as general waste and infectious waste.
Improper medical waste management especially the infectious one can cause potential hazard to human and animal health. These are waste from medical procedures such as tissues, materials or disposable equipment that have direct contact with infected tissues, body secretion of infected patient, dressing of infected wounds, disposable hospital items such as tubing, gown, mask, and many more. . Ramon San Pascual, Executive Director of Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Asia (2018) cites that: “Unsegregated medical waste is very harmful when dumped carelessly in the environment. It poses large-scale public and environmental health risks through release of pathogens and toxic pollutants that can cause radiation burns, sharps-inflicted injuries, mercury and dioxin leaks that could eventually seep into the ground and pollute bodies of water.”
The result of improper waste disposal is critical. For example, if an IV needle of an HIV positive patient, Hepatitis B, or other blood borne diseases punctured a healthy person, it is an 80% sure transmittal of infection. The susceptibility is high among health workers, scavengers, and the general public.
The impact is not limited to humans alone. Environment system including water, air, and all other living organisms is also at great risk. The river for example when contaminated by the cytostatic or radioactive chemicals disposed from hospital and pharmaceutical facilities could be fatal to its biodiversity. These chemicals may contain mutagenic or carcinogenic properties such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and number of chemicals from pharmaceutical materials. Those communities along this places who heavily rely on this water system as a source of basic (needs such as food) have high chances of consuming contaminated fish, shell foods, and fresh water produce.
One of the most known cases related to health waste management happened in Baguio City two years where syringes, dextrose bottles, vials, and biological waste was found contaminating one creek in Tuba, Benguet. This river is known as Nabjeng River which contribute to the Tauakan River in Pugo, La Union This was only discovered during road expansion project in the area. The waste is mixed in the soil and gravel (Quitasol, 2018).
Considering the potential health hazard caused by improper medical waste disposal, precautions and dire needs of immediate attention. This malpractices of individuals, haulers, and establishments can result to potential lawsuit and can be a health hazard.