New healthcare waste incinerators to improve public and environmental health across the Pacific

The PacWaste project has reached another important milestone with the installation and commissioning of state-of-the-art healthcare waste incinerators in Kiribati, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

These high temperature incinerators will ensure that biohazardous waste in the Pacific region will be treated in accordance with international best practice. The four incinerators, installed at Tungaru Central Hospital (Kiribati), Vaiola Hospital (Tonga), Princess Margaret Hospital (Tuvalu) and Vila Central Hospital (Vanuatu), are the first of 26 to be provided by PacWaste to the Pacific region's key hospitals and health clinics.

The Pacific Hazardous Waste Management Project (PacWaste) is a 7.85 million euro project funded by the European Union and implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to improve regional hazardous waste management across the Pacific.

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The provision of the PacWaste incinerators will improve the proper disposal of healthcare waste across the Pacific. Photo: E.Vanderburg/SPREP

In 2013, a regional healthcare waste baseline survey conducted by the PacWaste project found that none of the region's key hospitals and health clinics met all the minimum standards for the proper management of hazardous healthcare waste. The lack of access to appropriate incineration equipment and training was found to be a major barrier at many of the locations surveyed.

SPREP's PacWaste Project Manager, Mr Stewart Williams, explains that the dual chamber incinerators will play an important role in improved public and environmental health across the Pacific region:

"As well as providing a mechanism for the safe disposal of healthcare waste, the new incinerators will reduce the quantity of dangerous airborne contaminants, like dioxins, that previously occurred through the uncontrolled or low temperature burning of healthcare waste."

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From left to right: Mr Stewart Williams (SPREP's PacWaste Project Manager), Mr Andrew Jacobs (European Union Ambassador for the Pacific) and Mr Jesús Laviña (Head of Section for Natural Resources and Infrastructure at the European Union Delegation for the Pacific) at the June 4 incinerator handover ceremony in Funafuti, Tuvalu.

Mr Jesús Laviña, Head of Section for Natural Resources and Infrastructure at the European Union Delegation for the Pacific, explains that the provision of the incinerators is just one component of a comprehensive package of support being provided to 14 Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste:

"PacWaste is also providing specialised healthcare waste management training to all participating healthcare facilities along with personal protective equipment, signage and secure storage systems. This will ensure that hospitals and health clinics across the region have the necessary capacity and resources to implement a cost-effective and self-sustaining healthcare waste management system."

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The new incinerator at Vaiola Hospital in Nuku'alofa is the first of four incinerators to be installed across the Kingdom of Tonga. The other incinerators will be located in Vava'u, Eua and Ha'apai. Photo: S.Williams/SPREP

Once the training and installation of new equipment has been completed, PacWaste will reinforce best practice healthcare waste management in the long-term by providing ongoing support, system checks and regular audits.

Healthcare waste is one of four focus areas for the PacWaste project. The other priority areas are E-waste, asbestos and atoll solid waste management. For more information about PacWaste, please visit www.sprep.org/pacwaste


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