Agreement reached on waste from hospitals

Medical gloves. File picture
Medical gloves. File picture
Image: Flickr

The Eastern Cape Department of Health has agreed to stop dumping used medical gloves and cottonwool in Nelson Mandela Bay municipal landfills – following a series of threats and agreements between the two parties.

Health department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the department had previously not classified clean gloves used to put up a drip, or cottonwool, as medical waste.

These used items from hospitals and clinics were regarded as municipal waste and sent to municipal landfills.

“If these products are contaminated with blood, they would be classified as medical waste,” he said.

“We are talking about single-use gloves and cotton swabs.”

Since August, however, the municipality has been taking the department to task over the disposal of these items.

“We were threatened with prosecution and penalties,” Kupelo said.
He said an agreement had been reached with the municipality.

“The municipality will take over the disposal of medical waste from the current contractors when the contract expires.”

Kupelo said the department had now reclassified used gloves and cottonwool as medical waste and would no longer regard them as general waste, sent to normal landfills.

“We have improved the protocols within our facilities,” he said.

Municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki said the metro was engaging with the department.

“The municipality has communicated with [the health department] a number of times.

“Since we identified this transgression, we have improved our systems of inspection,” he said.

In 2015, the metro refused to collect general waste from Livingstone Hospital as it was not properly segregated.