Ha Noi, 16 August 2019 – The Ministry of Health and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) organized a teleconference on mitigating medical plastic waste in all 63 provinces in Viet Nam.
The conference was co-chaired by Minister of Health, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and Resident Representative a.i. of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Viet Nam.
The participants included representatives of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Information and Communications, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Planning and Investment, Dr. Kidong Park, WHO’s Representative in Viet Nam; Artist Chieu Xuan, Ambassador of the Movement against plastic waste, all line departments of the Ministry of Health, Central Hospitals, Viet Nam Trade Union, some medical universities, pharmaceutical companies, medical equipment companies, and international organizations.
The conference was also connected with provincial participants from all 63 provinces including Leaders of the Provincial People's Committees, Directors of the Provincial Departments of Health and representatives of relevant departments, agencies, and provincial and district hospitals.
In the opening remarks, Associate Prof. Dr. Nguyen Thi Kim Tien, Minister of Health said, “On April 25, 2019, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc sent document No. 161/LDCP calling on political organizations, ministries, agencies under the Government, levels of committees, local authorities, associations and businesses and all people work together to solve the problem of plastic waste.”
Specifically, plastic waste from plastic bags that are difficult to dissolve and non-disposable plastic products for packaging. According to a quick report from some hospitals, about 5% of medical waste generated is plastic waste (about 22 tons/day).
Minister Tien said that single-use plastic products in health have the advantage of preventing the risk of infection, ensuring quality of medicines; especially those that require absolute sterilization and safe biology. However, many other items other than the absolutely sterilized such as packaging materials and plastic bags are difficult to dissolve, disposable plastic products can be replaced with safe and more environmental-friendly materials.
She requested the leaders of agencies and health facilities at the central level and across provinces to focus on improving awareness and trainings to change behavior of using non-degradable, single-use plastic products for health workers, patients and patients' family members. She also proposed related organizations and individuals to work closely with agencies and units of the Health Sector to "stop using non-degradable plastic bags and plastic products that can be replaced the degradable ones from today."
The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Dr. Tran Hong Ha said “together with the country's economic development, the amount of medical waste is increasing, in which a significant amount is plastic. The amount of medical solid waste generated in hospitals and medical facilities is about 600 tons/day, of which about 10% is hazardous medical waste in most localities.”
“If these types of plastic wastes are not well controlled, they will threaten the life of marine animals, plants, polluting the environment and affecting socio-economic development” he added.
Ms. Sitara Syed, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. in Viet Nam said “over the last decade, UNDP has engaged with the Viet Nam’s Health sector to draw and address the linkages between health services and climate change. UNDP’s support will focus on the sector’s response to climate change and ensuring that health services in the country are eco-friendly and sustainably planned and managed.”
“We all know that the health sector plays a crucial role in ensuring human wellbeing. However, provision of these services, if not planned and managed well, can lead to risks such as exposure to biological or chemical agents, improper waste management, pollution through plastic and non-degradable products, emission of greenhouse gases and so on.” Ms. Syed added.
At the conference, the Ministry of Health also announced the Directive on reducing plastic waste in the health sector. There was also a signing ceremony to commit to reducing plastic waste between the Minister of Health and the director of Bach Mai Hospital, Viet Duc Hospital, K Hospital and the Medical University Hospital. Likewise, provincial hospitals in all 63 provinces signed their commitments with the Directors of Provincial Department of Health
Following the conference, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, and UNDP representatives and delegates visited the exhibition area of environmental-friendly products.
This conference was supported through the "Sustainable Health in Procurement project” funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), which UNDP is responsible for the implementation in Viet Nam. It also received support from the USAID-UNDP's project: "Strengthening the Implementation of One Health in Viet Nam.”