Residents of south Ambergris Caye are sounding the alarm about a situation they consider is detrimental to the health of many and could also pose a serious environmental risk if left unattended. Bio-medical waste - including red bags from doctors, from tattoo shops, from pharmacies and from the open air autopsies that are performed in the south end cemetery are being burned in the open air.
Ambergris Today did some investigating into the matter as concerned residents who live close to the new cemetery, south of town, have reached out to the authorities about this practice. The residents’ concern is that the fallout from these burns sprinkles over the surrounding neighborhood areas placing residents in harms way of dangerous toxins.
We spoke to Dr. Javier Zunia, Regional Health Manager of Central Health Region (Belize District and the Cayes) who assured that island residents should not be concerned about any health or environmental hazards due to the burning of this ‘Red Waste”.
Dr. Zuniga assured that the hazardous ‘red waste’ is properly collected, handled, transported, burned/disposed of with no potential danger to human health. The Ministry of Health collects medical waste from the Poly Clinic and all other private clinics on the island and is transported to the new cemetery located south of San Pedro Town. This is where it is burned at super high temperatures to properly kill all bacteria and harmful chemicals. After it is burnt, proper measures are taken to thoroughly sanitize the area.
Click here to read the rest of the article in the Ambergris Today
Open autopsies and biomedical waste burning has Ambergris Caye residents highly concerned
Residents in southern Ambergris Caye remain concerned at the manner in which biomedical waste continues to be disposed on the island. Now, the alarm has risen over the fact that unknown to them, open-air postmortem examinations are being done near the cemetery in the same vicinity. After this grisly discovery, residents now call on the local authorities to address the issue as soon as possible.
The Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II has been eliminating their bio-hazardous medical waste, which comprises of syringes and other items containing fluids such as blood, by burning it. The administration claims that it is the only way to get rid of the waste, as there are no other resources available. This practice happens at least once a week, and only one person is allowed to be near the bags that carry the waste. According to clinic personnel, a specific area is selected where the waste is burned in a hole in order to get rid of any hazardous substances or pathogens. According to them, this method is considered safe as incineration helps to kill any bacteria or virus. After burning the waste, the hole is covered, essentially burying the remains.
The other main concern is the open air autopsies that have been witnessed by the nearby neighbourhood. The waste from those autopsies is burned in an open fire and the rest buried. According to health standards, medical waste should be incinerated. An incinerator would generate the required temperature of over 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit to destroy any toxins and other hazardous substances that may survive the heat of an open fire which burns between 500 to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Residents believe that authorities on the island can arrange for the acquisition of such equipment without much difficulty.
Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun