Residents protest medical waste dump

Residents protest medical waste dump

The Jakarta Post
by Markus Makur

Residents of Iwaka village, Kuala Kencana district, Papua, have protested against the dumping of medical waste at the Iwaka landfill, used to dispose of garbage from Timika and managed by the Mimika Public Works Agency.

Residents requested the Mimika Health and Family Planning Agency address the issue. The landfill is not meant to hold medical waste from clinics in Timika.

When asked for confirmation, agency head Erens Meokbun admitted there had been findings of medical waste at the Iwaka landfill, including IV bottles and tubes.

"The medical waste is believed to have been dumped by clinics in Timika. The local health and family planning agency has called on the clinics to stop disposing of their medical waste at the Iwaka landfill," he said.

Meokbun added Iwaka villagers had reported the finding to his office.

He said his office had sent a team to the location based on the report of the findings of medical waste at the landfill.

"The waste is not hazardous, because it's only intravenous bottles and tubes. It's dry waste and not dangerous, but it's still not allowed to be dumped at a public landfill," he stressed.

Meokbun said he had issued memos to clinics in Timika, as well as community health centers, reminding them not to dispose of their medical waste at dumps in Timika or the landfill in Iwaka.

He added the regional hospital and Mitra public hospital were equipped with their own incinerators to destroy dry and wet medical waste, so clinics and community health centers in Timika should work together with them to dispose of such waste.

"I emphasize that clinics and community health centers in Timika and surrounding areas are strongly prohibited from dumping medical waste at public dumps and landfills," he said.

Meokbun added health officers would take stern action against violators if they were found doing so again.

"According to regulations, clinics must prepare their own waste disposal facilities to dispose of used clinical waste," he said.

He added that because Mimika faced an escalating HIV/AIDS crisis, his office had immediately tackled the medical waste issue so it could be handled promptly according to proper procedures.

"I'm monitoring the issue continuously," Meokbun said.

Waste management in Timika is seen as poor, despite concerted efforts by the regency administration through the relevant agencies to keep the city clean of garbage.

Mimika regency officials have gone to Yogyakarta for a comparative study to process medical waste, but have yet to implement the results of the study.