KATHMANDU, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- Narayani Hospital in Nepal's southern city of Birgunj has its own health care waste treatment center now, bringing much relief to those inside and around the health facility.
The health care waste management center was inaugurated on Thursday at the hospital, with a ceremony held to mark the handover of essential healthcare equipment for the operation of the center.
The center is equipped with a set of autoclave machines, which use steam to kill harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and spores.
Under a project run by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with financial support from China's Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund (GDF), the hospital has also received medical equipment and parts like segregation chambers, medical trolleys, waste bins, needle cutters and personal protective equipment to ensure proper waste management.
In addition, 20 officials and 45 others from the hospital have been trained on standard operating procedures regarding health care waste management.
The waste treatment center was built in an area where all types of waste were piled up without segregation in the past, and it came as a huge relief to patients, hospital staff and those living around the hospital.
"I had been living with the stench of garbage for the last several years," said Krishnaa Barma, a senior nurse from Narayani Hospital. "This waste management facility has brought me and my other colleagues who live in the building near this facility a huge relief."
Sachin Shrestha, a grocery shop owner, had to burn incense to dilute the stench of hospital garbage.
"I did not believe that such a quick transformation took place here in the last two weeks or so when the waste management facility was set up," he said.
The stench was not the only trouble for locals, birds had also carried medical waste to their homes in the recent past.
"The birds even brought waste created during the delivery of a baby," recalled Anupa Gautam, a local resident.
For poor children who used to collect garbage, the medical waste rendered them vulnerable to various diseases including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B because of used needles left in the garbage, according to hospital officials.
Things are turning for the better after Narayani Hospital became one of the very few hospitals in the city to have its own waste treatment system.
In Birgunj, there are only two hospitals running their own waste treatment plant, said Rajeshman Singh, mayor of the border city.
"The metropolitan city has its own two small waste treatment plants and we use them to sterilize hazardous garbage collected from various hospitals," he added.
At Narayani Hospital, the largest in Madhesh Province with 300 beds, 170.26 kg of waste was generated per day, according to an assessment conducted in 2020.
"As much as 15 percent of the total garbage is hazardous, according to a recent assessment," said Sruti Sah, head of the hospital's nursing department.
Along with the operation of the waste treatment center, Narayani Hospital has started to collect and segregate all the non-disposable items such as plastic, gloves and metal.
"We plan to sell these items and make an income, which we can use to fund the sanitation staff," said Sah.
Besides Nepal, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos are also covered by the project of Learning from China's Experience to Improve the Ability of Response to COVID-19 in Asia and the Pacific Region, with technical support from the Solid Waste and Chemicals Management Center under the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China, China National Health Development Research Center under the National Health Commission, and Tsinghua University/Basel Convention Regional Center for Asia and the Pacific.
In addition to Narayani Hospital, six other hospitals in Nepal are covered under the project as well.
Addressing the inauguration and handover ceremony at Narayani Hospital, UNDP Nepal's Deputy Representative Bernardo Cocco voiced his hope that the new waste management system would allow the hospital to provide better health care services in Birgunj.
To mark the occasion, a representative from the Chinese Embassy in Nepal congratulated the handover ceremony.
China always put the people first, for nothing in the world is more precious than people's lives, the representative said, expressing hope that the program can "keep on bringing safer health services to the communities and benefiting the local people."
"China is ready to provide the most needed medical expertise and critical supplies," the representative added.