COA marks ‘major setback’ in 7 Bulacan district hospitals for hazardous and infectious wastes buildup
by Allan Yves Briones
Hazardous and infectious wastes were left uncollected to up to a year in at least 7 district hospitals in Bulacan, a report by the Commission on Audit (COA) disclosed – a “major setback” in solid waste and hospital waste management practices.
According to the 2018 annual audit report, there were several waste management deficiencies found in the following health care facilities:
Bulacan Medical Center (BMC)
Rogaciano M. Mercado Memorial Hospital (RMMMH)
Emilio G. Perez Memorial District Hospital (EGPMDH)
Baliuag District Hospital (BDH)
San Miguel District Hospital (SMDH)
Calumpit District Hospital (CDH)
Gregorio Del Pilar District Hospital (GDPDH)
The provincial government of Bulacan’s failure to resolve the issue, according to state auditors, exposes hospital patients, health workers and even the general public to the danger of “human wastes, infectious diseases and other toxic wastes” which is a violation of several laws.
In the investigation done by state auditors, they found that wastes were not regularly collected from six months to a year. BMC, for example, was found to have created an “illegal” dumping site due to delays with their service provider.
“Inquiry revealed that as late as February, 2019, the permit of Cleanway, the Province’s service provider on hauling of hospital wastes was still pending approval with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),” the report read.
RMMMH reported the same issue, with Cleanway only picking up an estimated quantity of 30 to 40 drums per visit, leaving behind large amounts of waste which have continuously piled up – portions of which were already rotten leading to the possibility of causing infectious disease and air pollution.
At BDH, SMDH and CDH, Cleanway reportedly failed to collect wastes for up to a year, while at GDPDH, wastes were temporarily placed on the second-floor balcony of the hospital building.
According to COA, these practices violate Republic Act No. 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999, Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 and the Department of Health Manual on Health Care Management.
State auditors also flagged the provincial government in 2017 for shifting the responsibility of solid waste management from the Bulacan Environmental Natural Resources Office (BENRO) to the General Services Office (GSO) – a department which mainly focuses on quarrying and revenue generation.
In its list of recommendations, COA called on Bulacan Governor Daniel Fernando, who succeeded now-vice governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado, to require BENRO to properly enforce proper waste management practices, and the local GSO officer to consider procuring a different service provider.
According to Bulacan local officials, they are committed to do so.
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