Going digital to handle the tide of medical waste in Indonesia
July 27, 2022
One of the COVID-19 pandemic's most underreported impacts has been the alarming increase in medical waste at hospitals and health facilities across Indonesia, a vast archipelagic nation encompassing three different time zones.
According to the Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry Affairs ( MOEFmedical waste in Indonesia at 382 tones, following the pandemic, against pre-pandemic data at approximately 293 tones. The data was collected from 2,820 hospitals and 9,884 health centers across the country. A UNDP pilot project aims to tackle this issue with digital innovation, as Indonesia works to mitigate the risks of illegal dumping of hazardous waste.
Used needles, vaccine vials and other disposable sharp medical devices safely stored in the bins (Left). Ready for pickup; masks, bandages, intravenous drip bags and lines sorted and wrapped in yellow bags –marking the disposal of infectious waste (Right).
UNDP’s SMILE Project has been working with the MOEF Ministry on an internet-based Medical Waste Management Information System (WMIS ) in partnership with the Ministry of Health. The innovation specifically taps into the Internet of Things (IoT) which refers to collective network of interconnected devices as well as the technology that enables inter-device communication and data storage.
The pilot project tales place at the Dr Sardjito Hospital, a key COVID-19 designated facility in Yogyakarta province. Dozens of health workers have received training to input pertinent data, enabling real-time analysis of the waste management process, including waste segregation, and disposal.
The digital tracking system allows medical waste generators and authorities to identify current streams and determine total waste generated, and help reduce carbon footprint.
Despite regulations on effective handling of toxic and hazardous waste; safe medical waste management remains a challenge in Indonesia. Not only the recent increase of medical waste has strained resources of medical facilities, it also highlights the need to strengthen guidelines for effective compliance with medical waste treatment regulations.
Accelerating digitalization of waste management will help plan adequate infrastructure and capacity and also support health facilities to monitor performance of their waste management.
We dispose around 800-900 kg of infectious medical waste per day. Soon, using this WMIS will be very helpful to monitor our waste treatment and to report to the national levelAgung Sapto Budi Nugroho, Head of Sub Environmental Health Installation at Dr. Sardjito Hospital, noting that the hospital monitors waste treatment manually.
The pilot project involves collaborative actions by waste management workers and the hospital’s outsourced waste treatment team. Participants were trained on recording data, tagging waste from the hospital units, and sorting the types of medical waste. The process also included photographing the materials collected, assigning QR codes and developing reports on medical waste for third parties. The feedback will be applied to revamp the WMIS system.
UNDP, MoH, and the Dr. Sardjito hospital plan on entering an agreement on using WMIS by September 2022. Following this successful pilot, the WMIS prototype will also be tested in several other hospitals and community health centers in the capital Jakarta.
Text and photos by Virgi Fatmawati.
Edited by Tomi Soetjipto, Ranjit Jose and UNDP SMILE Project.
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