Environmentally friendly disposal of medical waste in Tamghas, Nepal
In many remote areas of Nepal waste is usually dumped in nature and eventually burned with an open fire. The absence of a working waste management system can be problematic, especially in hospitals. When infectious biomedical waste is disposed in this way, it can release toxic fumes and contaminate the groundwater. This can impose a great threat to the local population as well as to the environment. One hospital facing these problems is the Gulmi District Hospital in Tamghas, which contacted Technology without Borders was in order to provide a clean solution for the disposal of its infectious biomedical waste.
Tamghas is a small town with 5200 inhabitants which is located in the center of Nepal around 350 km west of the capital Kathmandu. The hospital is running 30 beds and provides its services to the public, serving patients who come from the remotest corners of the district. A total of 58000 patients per year have received a wide range of health services including approximately two deliveries per day. The hospital is also running emergency services 24/7.
To enable an environmentally friendly disposal of the medical waste in Tamghas the local partners and Technology without Borders built an incinerator for the hospital which is based on the DeMontfort Mark 9. The incinerator is made of clay bricks and welded steel parts which were bought in the region. Despite its simple design it allows an incineration in two chambers with temperatures over 800°C to burn and decontaminate biomedical waste. To reach these temperatures the incinerator has to be heated up only with paper and plastic waste.
The DeMontfort design was established in various projects by Technology without Borders, but had to be adapted in this project due to the boundary conditions. It was originally planned to build the incinerator with special high-temperature cement imported from India. Unfortunately, the joints made from this cement weren’t tight and we had to use regular cement instead. Another peculiarity of this project was an incinerator design with two chimneys instead of one due to an unavailability of large diameter steel pipes. Despite these unplanned changes the finished incinerator was working perfectly fine.
The incinerator can only be operated efficiently long-term in conjunction with a working waste separation system in the hospital. This system was introduced together with the hospital administration and established in several trainings for the hospital staff. The theory was explained and it was shown how it should be executed on a daily basis. In addition, three staff members were taught the correct operation of the incinerator. In all trainings, an emphasis was put on the operational safety while handling the biomedical waste as well as the incinerator.
March 2023 - now