Harmful medical wastewater made safe for the environment

Rural communities living near four district hospitals (with a capacity of 100-200 sick beds) in the Nghe An Province (Vietnam) breathed a sigh of relief as medical facilities were equipped earlier this year, to treat harmful medical wastewater making it safe before release into the surrounding environment. Poor infrastructure had left these communities at high risk of coming in contact with the hazardous medical waste. According to the Vietnam News, Vietnamese hospitals discharge about 2.5 – 3 tonnes of untreated medical waste a day.

Medical wastewater is full of infectious pathogens that spread diseases (e.g. cholera, rotavirus) and toxic chemicals, posing serious environmental and health risks to surrounding communities.

Without adequate wastewater treatment facilities, untreated medical wastewater is discharged into open concrete drains, absorbed by the soil and seeps into groundwater; often the drinking water supply of patients and staff reliant on wells on the compound for consumption.

The partnership between Lien AID and the Ministry of Health Vietnam saw four wastewater treatment systems installed, and operations & maintenance skills imparted to the hospital staff.  These district hospitals are now able to treat the harmful medical wastewater before it is safely released into the environment, benefitting the community of 52, 800 people.

More importantly, the project enabled local authorities to compare the merits of various technologies deployed and gather practical experience for subsequent implementation of such solutions for district hospitals (with a capacity of 100 – 200 sick beds) in Vietnam.