New equipment for safe disposal of medical waste - USA donation to Batut

April 27, 2022

Photo: Amir Hamzagic / Beta

Belgrade, April 27, 2022 – Today, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) delivered new equipment for the proper disposal of medical waste to the "Dr Milan Jovanovic Batut" Public Health Institute. The $150,000 donation includes an autoclave and a shredder - for sterilization and grinding of medical equipment and infectious medical waste that will ensure that the increased amount of toxic medical waste generated by the pandemic will be disposed of in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.  

“On behalf of USAID, I would like to commend Director Jovanović, the staff of Batut Institute and everyone working in Serbia’s healthcare system. Whether you were a doctor saving lives or a janitor cleaning COVID wards -- you worked tirelessly to help your fellow citizens get through the worst of this crisis. The equipment USAID is donating to help Batut to safely dispose of medical waste that was generated from COVID-19 itself, as well as from the successful delivery of several million vaccines, is just part of the approximately $10 million in COVID-19 assistance that the United States has provided to Serbia since the start of the pandemic,” said Denny Robertson, USAID Mission Director.

Previously USAID, in partnership with UNDP, helped establish a National Communication Center at “Batut” and provided Information and Communications Technology (ICT) equipment to “Batut” and 23 regional and local health institutes. The Center helped “Batut” better coordinate the ongoing vaccination process and direct public health resources to protect the health of Serbian citizens according to priority needs.  

Verica Jovanović, the director of the "Batut" Public Health Institute said, “We received an autoclave that destroys bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms by using steam and high temperature, and a shredder that grinds medical waste previously sterilized in autoclave - into fine particles. After such treatment, the amount of medical waste is significantly reduced, and it can be disposed of in the same way as non-medical waste or can be recycled.” 

The USAID donation also includes two transport trolleys for loading carts, a loading cart designed specifically for waste treatment including liquids, two water treatment systems, a ground scale and 10 transport containers.

“Our report found that in Serbia, during the first 12 months of the pandemic alone, the amount of generated medical waste was about 40 percent higher compared to the same period before COVID-19,” said Francine Pickup UNDP Serbia Resident Representative, adding that “we must keep the environment protected, because our long-term health depends on it.”

Jelena Janković, a.i. Assistant Minister of Health in the sector of public health and program healthcare, thanked the Institute, UNDP and USAID for their support in activities related to public health protection and the donation, adding that it is crucial that this modern autoclave is used to enable recycling of medical and infectuous waste. 

The delivery of this equipment is part of the twenty-month $2.75 million “Together against COVID” project, funded by the USAID and implemented by UNDP. The project is realized in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the "Dr Milan Jovanović Batut" Public Health Institute and supports Serbia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the areas of health, and social and environmental protection.