Thu, 24 Jul 2003

Most hospitals have poor waste management

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The city administration will send warning letters to many of the city's 99 hospitals for failing to manage their waste properly.

The city's environmental management body, BPLHD, warned the hospitals on Wednesday to improve their waste treatment facilities or face sanctions.

"The majority of these hospitals received bad marks in how they manage their dangerous waste," the head of the BPLHD's environmental impact prevention division, Ridwan Panjaitan, said.

Ridwan said his office had assessed 55 of the city's 99 hospitals, and found that only four managed their liquid and solid waste well. Twelve others adequately managed their waste while the remaining 39 hospitals poorly managed their waste.

He said that among the 39 hospitals were an eye center in Central Jakarta, two maternal and children's hospitals in East Jakarta and West Jakarta, and a top hospital belonging to a state-owned enterprise in South Jakarta.

A hospital belonging to a private university in North Jakarta and another hospital in West Jakarta also were found to manage their waste poorly, Ridwan said.

He said his office would take action against hospitals that failed to improve their waste management.

The first step is to issue three warning letters to the hospitals in question, giving them three months to improve their waste management, he said.

If hospitals fail to improve their waste management, the city will close disposal access to their surrounding areas and run an announcement in newspapers about conditions at the hospitals, he said.

Ridwan also warned that the city administration would take legal action against the management of any hospital that refused to cooperate in resolving waste problems.

"There is a strong legal basis to take action against environmental violators," he said.

The administration has yet to bring any part to court for violating environmental laws.

According to Article 41 of Law No. 23/1997 on the environment, those damaging the environment can receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and a maximum fine of Rp 500 million (US$60,240). However, if the damage leads to death the maximum sentence is 15 years in jail and a fine of Rp 750 million.

Ridwan said the administration would honor the four hospitals found to manage their waste properly during a ceremony to be attended by Governor Sutiyoso next month.

But he refused to reveal the names of the hospitals. "We cannot announce them yet because the assessment process is still not final."

Ridwan stressed the importance of waste management for hospitals, saying the waste could spread disease if improperly handled.

He said clinical and radiological waste could be extremely dangerous to people living near hospitals if the waste was not managed properly.

Radiological waste from hospitals can cause various diseases, including cancer, while clinical waste can spread diseases from patients treated at the hospitals.