Members of Ban Toxic hold placards during the Philippine Healthcare and Mercury Wastes Management Project workshop in Quezon City on June 10, 2024. The project aims to reduce unintentionally produced organic pollutants and mercury in the healthcare waste sector by promoting environmentally sound approaches to healthcare waste management. – Photo by Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.

By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.

QUEZON CITY – The Ban Toxics, through the Philippine Healthcare and Mercury Wastes Management Project (PHAMWMP), is working towards a cleaner, safer, and sustainable wastes management.

The PHAMWMP aims to protect human health and the environment through the reduction of unintentionally-produced persistent organic pollutants (uPOPs) and mercury in the healthcare waste sector by promoting environmentally-sound approaches to healthcare waste management.

During the NCR (National Capital Region) Inception Meeting and Validation Workshop on Monday (June 10) at the Ardenhills Suites, Rey San Juan, executive director of PHAMWMP, said “It’s the third leg of the inception meeting, the first of which, was held in Tuguegarao City, and now in the NCR.”

Gerry Saniel, of the DENR-EMB, this validation workshop and inception meeting is now the last and third leg for the NCR.

“It’s the crucial stage of managing the Philippine healthcare and mercury wastes management,” Sanel said.

“The support and cooperation of the project partners are significant and imperative,” he added.

The project partners are the Ban Toxics, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB). 

The partner hospital is the Quirino Memorial Medical Center (QMMC), the Foreign-Assisted Projects (FAPs), Metro Clark Waste Management Corp., and Department of Health (DOH). 

“The project was started during the Covid-19 pandemic, which devastated the Philippines from March 15, 2020 until the end of 2022,” Saniel said.

“The workshop is the third and last leg of the three regions and this workshop will validate our workshops. Our activities are not the final activity because this activity will be implemented in the next five years,” he added.

“We will intensify education and community participation,” Saniel said.

“We will also validate our work grant as this is a five-year project,” he added.

Saniel stressed that whatever recommendations or suggestions towards the outcome of the workshop will be welcome.

He pointed out that the commitments and the undertakings of the project partners are the “backbone” of the project.

“Today is DENR Day, but this is priority,” Saniel said.

Jan Lorenzo, project manager of Ban Toxics, said Ban Toxics is an independent, non-profit, environmental organization that strongly supports the protection of the environment and advocates for an environmentally sustainable future through the promotion of sound chemicals and waste management practices.

San Juan said that the project is funded not locally, but internationally, specifically the GEF in the amount of US$4.8 million, excluding co-funding, and it will be supervised by project manager Jan Lorenzo.

He added that they started with the use of mercury in the “gold ore” wherein they were even “red tagged”, and they were able to establish the national coalition of the small-scale miners of the Philippines.

The components of the project are reducing uPOPs in the healthcare sector, managing mercury and mercury-added products and wastes, capacity-building and awareness raising, and monitoring and evaluating the project’s progress.

The hazardous waste in the healthcare sector are sharps, infectious, pathological, anatomical, pharmaceutical, genotoxic, chemical, radioactive and pressurized containers. – By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.

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