More hospitals hit by pile-up of waste

THE crisis of uncollected medical waste - due to the suspension of services by Phambili Wasteman at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital - has spread to other major hospitals in Gauteng.

THE crisis of uncollected medical waste - due to the suspension of services by Phambili Wasteman at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital - has spread to other major hospitals in Gauteng.

This has left many facilities with an unbearable stench as tons of boxes and buckets filled with used bandages, syringes, swabs andplacentas continue to pile up.

So far four hospitals in the province have not had their waste collected.

Temporary contractors have been brought in to remove waste at Charlotte Maxeke and Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital while the Gauteng department of health and Phambili Wasteman attempt to resolve their issues.

Phambili Wasteman has also suspended operations at Steve Biko Academic Hospital and at Dr Mukhari Pretoria West Hospital. It stopped their services 10 days ago when the department failed to pay them.

Phambili Wasteman, which is contracted to remove medical waste from all public hospitals in the Johannesburg region, has insisted it would not resume its services unless they were paid. The waste remover is owed more than R6million by the department for services rendered over the past few months.

"The department, together with Gauteng Shared Services Centre (GSSC), were notified on Monday last week that in light of their inability to pay, our services would be suspended. They were informed that the company would continue with its services immediately on payment being made," said Olivier Meyer, chief executive of PhambiliWasteman.

Department spokesperson Mandla Sidu said they were not aware of any other hospitals being affected, except for Dr George Mukhari Pretoria West and Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic hospitals.

Gauteng health spokesperson Jack Bloom said: "What is happening at hospitals around Johannesburg is unacceptable.

"The situation at Steve Biko Academic Hospital was described to me as a crisis, with hundreds of boxes being stored in passages and an unbearable smell. They were told last week that the army would be called in to remove the waste but it is still building up at the hospital.

"I have also received complaints from Dr George Mukhari Hospital that waste is piling up to the roof, attracting hordes of flies to the storage area near the kitchen.

"Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane needs to step in to get an emergency loan to help the Gauteng health department pay its suppliers as soon as possible," Bloom added.

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