Emergency response for the provision of mobile medical waste treatment equipment, medical equipment and personal protective equipment to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in China
In close collaboration with the Foreign Environmental Cooperation Centre of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China, UNIDO has actively supported China to respond to and prevent the spread of COVID-19. In particular, the emergency project provided fundamental equipment needed by medical health practitioners (at a time when this was hardly available on international markets) and provided the necessary training to medical waste treatment operators. The project was a good practice of concerted actions between the national ministries, hospitals, UNIDO and the donor, which led to project approval and installation of emergency equipment, in less than 1 month from the initial request.
The objectives were: i) support effective medical waste disposal of hospitals in Wuhan city (the original hotspot of the virus) through non-incineration technology; ii) protect health operators with personal protective equipment (PPE); iii) support hospitals with innovative equipment and; iv) provide training and capacity development to waste management operators. The provision of personal protective equipment enhanced the working conditions of health workers in emergency hospitals, since the equipment was not available in the national market. The project also prevented pollution by providing the best available technologies for safe and efficient medical waste treatment. Finally, the capacity of a hospital in Hubei was strengthened through the provision of an innovative extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine.
- SDG 3: By managing health waste with autoclave technology, COVID-19 infection from waste were avoided. The PPE and ECMO equipment contributed to save lives; - SDG 5 Particular attention was paid to ensure an equal gender representation in trainings; - SDG 6: By reducing pollution and minimizing the release of hazardous chemicals and materials in the environment through effective medical waste management; - SDG 8 and 9: By providing training to health workers and capacity building to medical waste operators at large; - SDG 13: By avoiding incineration and reducing pollution.
On 30 January 2020, the WHO Director-General announced the outbreak of COVID-19 as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Wuhan was the worst affected region, calling urgently for assistance due to severe deficiencies in personal hygiene protection and medical waste disposal capacity. On 14 February, the FECO/MEE sent a request to UNIDO on emergency assistance to help increase the medical waste disposal capacity in epidemic areas. The “Emergency Response Assistance to the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China” project was approved shortly after. Detailed activities: (1.1) the procurement of PPE from outside of China and transfer to China; (1.2) the procurement/rent of equipment to treat medical waste in an emergency hospital; (2.1) the development of guides/books explaining best practices in medical waste treatment, specifically for the target group; (Target group: (a) staff handling medical waste in hospitals and (b) staff in waste disposal centre) (2.2) the development of training materials, including an online course, for the target group; (2.3) the conduction of training on ESM of medical waste; (2.4) the preparation of a video on ESM of medical waste, aiming at the target group in remote areas. (2.5) an ECMO machine and related training were provided. In the first week of March, emergency mobile autoclave equipment was in place, and training was provided for operators. The Chinese contractor spent only 10 days completing the equipment production process from design, procurement, assembly to workshop debugging. The project had a total cost of around USD 1,200,000, and the donor is the Ministry of Commerce of China. It was rapidly mobilized through the Industrial Development Fund at UNIDO, and was among the quickest approved project in the UN system.
1.1: 3,997 Protective bodywear were procured, delivered and provided to health workers at times they were not available in the national market. 1.2: Medical waste treatment equipment was procured and put into use in Wuhan. After the 31 days lockdown, 690 barrels (240 l/barrel) and 230 batches of epidemic medical waste with a total weight of about 21 tons were disposed; no one was infected during the operations; no generation and emission of secondary pollutants. 2.1: Two training guides on ESM of medical waste were prepared, and the Chinese experience was shared across countries. 2.2, 2.3, 2.4: Web-based training on ESM of medical waste were prepared and made available to practitioners. Several hundred people attended the online training during the project’s duration. 2.5 One ECMO equipment was procured in Europe and installed in a hospital in Hubei. The machine helped save the lives of hospitalized patients.
The project effectively alleviated the shortage of medical equipment and supported the environmentally sound treatment of medical waste. The project success was facilitated by speedy implementation and multiple stakeholders’ activities support. Project partners worked together to fight a common threat. Additionally, the project cultivated country ownership and aligned with China’s priorities. The project was efficient in that the vast majority of the resources targeted capacity building and the procurement of equipment through UNIDO’s competitive procurement process. However, the share of resources for project management was very limited.
The project implementation experience had significant referential value for all countries in their fight against pandemic. For example, the current response assistance project to COVID-19 in Iran, which was carried out in partnership with CIDCA, has successfully drawn lessons from the Emergency Response Assistance Project to COVID-19 in China. The project experience and outcomes would be summarized to promote the replication of achievements. Practitioners’ training on sound management of medical waste can assist the global fight against COVID-19 and reduce the spread of other diseases and nosocomial infections. Notably, the successful use of non-incineration technology, which was not common in China nor several other developing countries, was demonstrated and can be replicated. In this regard, the project also developed a study on medical waste disposal using cement kilns around the world, focusing on Iran, which will inform the further implementation of the above project.
The project was focused on reducing COVID-19 spread and mitigating its environmental impacts through medical waste management. To support a better building back after COVID-19, the project provides accessible guidance to the public on how to safely dispose of medical waste in an environmentally safe manner while skilling workers and create new jobs in waste management. The post-crisis recovery can be an opportunity to prioritize climate resilience and environmental standards, including medical waste management, in order to be more prepared in case of a new pandemic. The actions taken to minimize possible COVID infections, as well as the demonstration of non-incineration technologies in an emergency context, will help China and the humanity as a whole in fighting possible future pandemics.
SDGS & Targets
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Deliverables & Timeline
There are currently no comments. Please log in to comment.