Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL
DA KZN Alternate Spokesperson on Health:
THE DA has called for answers from KZN’s Health MEC following the discovery of dumping of hazardous medical waste – including bloodied medical swabs – allegedly by the department in an open lot on North Road in Oslo Beach within the Hibiscus Coast municipality.
The finding was made late last week by DA public representatives following up on complaints by community members. Other material found includes KZN DoH documentation and educational pamphlets.
The DA is outraged by this finding and strongly condemns the irresponsible actions of the DoH. It is an indictment against KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo that dumping such as this is taking place. Every health care professional should know that there are strict, highly regulated protocols around the disposal of soiled and bloodied medical waste.
Shockingly there are no mechanisms in place to protect community members, especially children, from this harmful waste which can spread infections such as HIV and hepatitis. For it to simply be dumped in an open field has put the entire community of Port Shepstone at risk turning the matter into a public health safety emergency.
Amongst the education materials found are pamphlets related to child care initiatives. The DA is working to establish whether they are linked to current health initiatives being rolled out by the department. This after we received information that many local Port Shepstone clinics are unable to properly roll out child care programmes due to lack of educational materials.
It would be a travesty if such a vital educational resource has been dumped when there is such a great need for them.
The DA has informed the Department of Health Ugu District Office of our findings. We are advised that corrective steps are being taken.
While there has already been speculation as to where this waste originated, the community wants and deserves proper answers. I have therefore written to the MEC, calling for an in-depth investigation. Those guilty of dumping must be held to account and steps put in place to ensure that it is never repeated.
The Department of Health should be working to treat disease – not spreading it amongst our communities. The Democratic Alliance will continue to monitor this in a bid to ensure that our communities are kept safe.