Medical Waste Management as Part of the Social Culture

Hanganak NGO has never dealt with environmental issues. Even though it is one of the key issues in public health, and Hanganak is an organization that has been and is aiming to improve public health. Such a question arose with the decision of providing insulin-dependent patients with syringes. What to do with used syringes? This is how the proper management of medical waste came about. A survey revealed that Hanganak beneficiaries with regular ambulatory treatment had no problem mixing medical waste with household waste for years, as the entire population of Artsakh did.

To start with, we first thought about collecting used syringes and then figuring out how to arrange their disposal. The easiest and most affordable way, as our A.W.W.A. partners advised, is to collect used syringes in plastic bottles. Beneficiaries were provided with the necessary disposable syringes for one month and were instructed to collect the syringes in plastic bottles immediately after each injection. The nurses were instructed to bring them to Hanganak at the end of the month.

In the meantime, we did little research to find out how health facilities solved this problem in Stepanakert. Thus, we learned that some hospitals had their own incinerators, where the thermal disposal of medical waste was carried out. This means that medical waste is literally burned in specialized furnaces designed specifically for this purpose. One of the furnaces is located in Stepanakert Anti-Tuberculosis Dispensary, where, in addition to their own waste, medical waste from other facilities is also disposed of. However, it was not yet clear to us what the principles were.

At the end of August, when the syringes used during that month were collected from our 5 insulin-dependent patients (we had a small amount of waste because of the number of patients), we already knew who to turn to. However, we wanted to do it legally and applied to the Ministry of Health.

Our issue was resolved. An official from the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Artsakh contacted the Anti-Tuberculosis Dispensary and told us they would advise us when to take the waste to hospital. The waste is not disposed daily, but is collected and processed only in case of sufficient waste.

A few days later, they called us and advised us to take the waste to the Anti-Tuberculosis Dispensary. We did it right away.

We will return to this issue and tell more about medical waste management in Artsakh later. However, we came across the following presented in photos and we have no comment.