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BUENOS AIRES--Municipalities in Paraguay must set up facilities for medical waste treatment and disposal, according to regulations issued May 5 to implement the country's medical waste law (Law 3361/07 on handling, storage, transportation, and disposal of medical waste).
The regulations, issued by presidential Decree 6538, also require the General Environmental Health Directorate to create a national register to monitor all health establishments and medicinal material transportation in the country.
The new rules set out guidelines and requirements for every step of the process for handling medical waste, from generation to disposal. The regulations cover all public and private health facilities in Paraguay, from large hospitals and laboratories to doctors, dentists, veterinarian offices, pharmacies, morgues, and funeral homes, as well as acupuncture establishments and tattoo parlors.
While the decree established that all health and health-related facilities must make their own medical-waste handling arrangements, Article 24 said, “Municipalities … will be responsible for waste collection, transportation, treatment, and final disposal whenever [waste] originators find it impossible to carry out those activities, either by themselves or through third parties.”
The decree gives all establishments 60 days to fully comply with its requirements.
Under the regulation, waste is divided into five categories, from innocuous empty medicine bottles and packaging material to biological waste such as dead animal and human parts, to hazardous chemicals and objects. The decree also set out different waste handling procedures for each group.
According to the regulation, hazardous material, including biological waste, must be incinerated using equipment with emissions-control systems “whose contaminants-removal efficiency meets national and international standards.” After incineration, the waste can be then disposed at normal landfills. X-ray plates must be recycled.
Establishments seeking permits to treat medical waste must submit an operation plan that includes contingency plans to deal with eventual unexpected emergencies.
By David Haskel
Full text of the decree (No. 6538) is available, in Spanish, at http://www.presidencia.gov.py/v1/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/decreto6538.pdf.
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