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Medical Incinerator Introduced in Sudan

By: Ahmed Alhaj (Site Admin)

KHARTOUM, (SUDANOW)—Disposal of medical garbage in hospitals and private clinics constitutes an obsessive insomnia to the concerned officials just like treatment of diseases, even more grave, as the garbage transmits the disease from the patient to those who deal with him during the treatment and nursing.

The importation of a medical incinerator by the Gentle Care and Dutch Kaiman companies in coordination with the Ministry of Health of Khartoum State has aroused heated discussions on the environmental effects that may be caused by operation of this medical incinerator for disposal of the garbage.


Mrs. Yvonne Stassen, deputy head of mission-counsellor in the Netherland embassy here, explained that the incinerator is a private sector investment (PSI) project under which the Netherland Government extends a financial grant to two Sudanese and foreign private sector partners that is equivalent to half of the cost of the joint project. Approval has previously been made for several projects in fields of agriculture, poultry and hydraulic maintenance, said the diplomat. “We have sensed the importance of such a project in the Sudan for getting rid of the medical garbage in hospitals and clinics,” the charge d’affaires said.

Who will carry out the project?

Kaiman General Manager Khalid Nasr said the medical incinerator was imported after considering all technical and health aspects and in accordance with high quality specifications approved by the Ministry of Environment and the Sudanese Standards and Metrology Organization (SSMO) as this is important for the human and environment safety.

“It was a big challenge for me to persuade the partners in the Company for investment in this field, particularly as it brings in a small profit compared with other projects being executed by the Company which was founded in 2010. The projects executed by the Company included installation of devices for controlling automatic irrigation of Kenana and Sudanese sugar agricultural projects in 2011, he said.

Inception and cost of the project:

The idea of the project arose from the need to control the environmental pollution in the hospitals due to garbage accumulation or disposing of it in an improper way that cause further harm to the human health, said Nasr. The Company contributed to importation of the medical incinerator in cooperation with Khartoum State’s Ministry of Health, said the General Manager, adding that the project for Khartoum State cost 5 million dollars, including the buildings, machines and equipment of the incinerator. The hospitals and clinics are charged nominal fees to cover the cost of the project which is now undergoing operation tests and will be officially opened January 30th, Nasr said.

Regarding the Company’s previous experiences in installing medical incinerators, the General Manage said his Company has carried out several projects of this kind in a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Libya. The specifications of this medical incinerator, which was manufactured by an English company, have endorsed by the European Union and the World Health Organization(WHO), Nasr said. The Company has several incinerators each in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Libya, Turkey and a number of European countries, he added.

Why has Bashair Hospital, in particular, been chosen for the project?

The General Manager said the venue was selected by the State Ministry of Health apparently on grounds that the areas is dense in population, implying that there will be many patients and consequently there will be a greater need for getting rid of resulting huge medical garbage. The Company offers the Hospital free of charge services, he said, adding that other incinerators would be installed in the Turkish Hospital in Khartoum, Ahmed Gassim Hospital in Khartoum North and the Saudi Hospital in Omdurman. The installation of incinerator inside the hospital is something that is practiced all over the world, he added.

Nasr said the future distribution of the incinerators in those areas was made after consideration of the State’s geographic terrain and the distances between the hospitals and the road of access to the incinerator that may take more than 24 hours till all the garbage is collected, implying further environmental pollution, bearing in mind that the daily garbage is estimated at 12-13 tons, according to a specialized study.

How the incinerator is run:

Nasr explained that the work begins by collecting and sorting out the garbage and placing each sort in a separate vessel inside special containers provided by the Company to the hospital for putting the garbage in. The Company has trained sweepers to carry out this step after which the garbage is placed in special stores inside the position of the incinerator where it will not remain more than 24 hours. After that, the garbage is placed through a pipe in the machine of incinerator’s first chamber where the first burning occurs under 1200? C. In the second step, the gases resulting from the burning process are siphoned to the second chamber where those gases undergo processing under a high temperature to prevent emission of any poisonous gases. What remains after this process is carbon dioxide whichexists in the atmosphere. The resultant is only ash which weighs 2%-5% of the incinerated garbage and which is friendly to the environment and soil because it has been processed, the General Manager said.


Where has the garbage used to disappear in the past?

“In order to underline the importance of this incinerator, I would like to indicate the method in which the medical garbage used to be disposed of in the past. The hospital used to collect the garbage in special containers, then it is gathered with the other garbage of the hospital, including food leftovers and other remains and taken by the garbage vehicle to be tipped n the dump together with house and street garbage which will also be contaminated, jeopardizing human and environment health, sometimes fatally. 

Nasr warned against the danger of this practice to every one, especially to the medical personnel. “We have to dispose of this garbage in a way that prevents occurrence of any pollution or harm,” he said.

Kaiman General Manager noted that some hospitals conclude deals with contractors to move the garbage to a remote place where it is buried or burnt in the open. This is an improper behavior because the pollution is transmitted from one place to another from the soil to plants which are eaten by animals the meat of which is consumed by Man, Nasr said.

The training of personnel inside the incinerator:

The General Manager said the personnel have been trained on how to operate the incinerator by experts who came from Holland and some of them would be sent to the Netherlands for the purpose.

Speaking on the site of the incinerator, the operations manager said he had undergone training by the Company’s English engineer. The incinerator is now in the stage of tests operation and receives garbage from all hospitals, he said, adding that it is run by four workers working in shifts. The Company is committed to providing all security precautions for the workers inside the incinerator in addition to providing them with health security, the operation manager said. He noted that this incinerator is not adequate and the State is in dire need for more incinerators, considering the huge amounts of garbage that accumulate in the hospitals.  

Inside Bashair Hospital:

Dr. Maha Ibrahim Jadallah, paediatrician, Bashair Hospital Director-General and specialist of the digestive system and spectroscopy of the Al-Nilein University, said: We all know that there are big amounts of consumed medical materials which cannot be disposed of along with other sorts of garbage or in the traditional methods because they contain poisonous substances which, after burning, take the form of gases and vapours in the air posing grave harms for all creatures they inhale. The greater risk is that those gases travel from one place to another for long distances and therefore the medical garbage should not be burnt in such a way, even in remote areas because the resulting poisonous gases can travel from one country to another by air. 

Dr. Jadallah added that, after burning the garbage leaves behind dangerous materials in the soil which are transmitted to the human beings and animals through plants. The medical and chemical substances never decompose into the soil and they are cancerous, she said.

Dr. Jadallah added that in the past the disposal of the medical garbage used to be practiced by burning the garbage and installing high chimneys for the gases and vapours to fly high in the air. This was not a good practice because the gases return to Earth in the form of rains that feed the plants on the soil and eaten by the animals which carry forward to human beings with meat.

This medical incinerator is a modern one and is friendly to the environment because it contains filters that sucks up all poisonous substances and what comes out of the incinerator is the carbon dioxide which poses no risk to human beings or any other living creatures.

The scientist added that some hospitals bring in small incinerators and ripping machines to get rid if their garbage. There is an incinerator in the Chinese Hospital in Omdurman and a similar one in the Dayat (gynaecology) Hospital in Omdurman. This incinerator of ours cannot cover all the hospitals and, for this reason, each hospital should have its own incinerator, Dr. Jadallah said.

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