Inception Workshop Kicks-Off in Cagayan Valley to Address Healthcare Waste Challenges

23 May 2024, Tuguegarao City – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) and environmental NGO BAN Toxics kicked off its series of Regional Inception Meetings and Validation Workshops for The Philippine Healthcare and Mercury Wastes Management Project (PHCWMP).

Officially launched on December 6, 2023, the PHCWMP aims to reduce the release and emissions of hazardous chemicals in healthcare wastes through environmentally sound practices. The five-year project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), will be implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), with the DENR-EMB as the national lead agency and BAN Toxics as the executing entity.

umpstarting the project implementation is a series of Inception Meetings in the three regions where PHCWMP will be implemented – Region 2, Region 8, and the National Capital Region. The first regional meeting was held in Tuguegarao City and was attended by project partners in Region 2, namely, the EMB Region 2 office, the Ilagan City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), and the Cagayan Valley Medical Center (CVMC), as well as delegates from the EMB Central Office’s Hazardous Waste Management Section and Chemical Management Section, and the DENR Foreign-Assisted and Special Projects Service unit.

EMB Region 2 Director Nelson Honrado opened the Regional Inception Meeting. In his speech, he gave an overview of existing regulatory policies pertaining to healthcare wastes, including the landmark Administrative Joint Order 2005-002 aimed at harmonizing efforts between the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in managing healthcare wastes in the Philippines.

“On behalf of EMB Region 2, I extend my gratitude to the LGU City of Ilagan and Cagayan Valley Medical Center for their commitment to co-finance the project. The role of LGUs in the management of waste and implementation of related laws is clearly defined,” Honrado said.

He added, “We should think globally and act locally to protect our environment. The state of the environment is our indebtedness to the coming generations who will inherit it. It is about time that we become more aware of our actions and how they will affect the future of our environment.”

The project’s main components include reducing the release and emission of unintentionally-produced persistent organic pollutants (uPOPs), managing mercury and mercury-added products and wastes, and building capacity and raising awareness, all within the healthcare sector.

According to the project’s manager and BAN Toxics Policy and Research Officer, Jam Lorenzo, the activities of PHCWMP involve improvement of policies, regulations, and standards, identifying alternative treatment technologies for healthcare wastes, encouraging and supporting the production of safer alternative PPE and disinfection materials, conducting environmental monitoring activities, carrying out environmental protection advocacy, and raising public environmental awareness.

“The Regional Inception Meetings are intended to gather preliminary data, assess the status and needs of the partner facilities and agencies, and validate proposed technology interventions for the project,” Lorenzo said.

The day after the Region 2 Inception Meeting, the project team will visit the CVMC for initial inspection of the healthcare facility’s waste management system.

The next Regional Inception Meetings will be held in Tacloban City for Region 8 on May 30 and in Metro Manila on June 10. The inception phase of the project will culminate in a National Workshop to be held in July this year. #

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