The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Health Minister Wael Abu Faour announced Wednesday that all Lebanese hospitals have a one-month deadline to properly dispose of hazardous medical waste, otherwise violating hospitals would be liable to closure.

After a meeting with Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk Wednesday, Abu Faour announced that Lebanon’s 19 private and 9 public hospitals would need to sort out a system to manage its waste within one month.

After the deadline, an assessment from the environment ministry would determine each hospital’s compliance with disposal standards.

In the case of a violation among private hospitals, the health ministry will have the authority to cancel the hospital’s contracts.

Due to the inability to cancel contracts for state-owned hospitals, violations will be followed by administrative and judicial measures against councils, departments or committees in public hospitals.

“Food safety comes from environmental safety. If the environment is not sound then food is not sound,” Abu Faour said, as he emphasized that the public health campaign can’t be approached solely through food safety, with which he has become synonymous in Lebanon.

The health minister noted that pollution in the Bekaa’s Litani River is predominantly caused by medical and industrial waste. The hazardous material tossed into the river causes diseases not only in the Bekaa Valley but in all Lebanese regions, he said.

Earlier this month, Machnouk issued a firm warning to medical institutions over unsafe disposal of their hazardous medical waste after dangerous medical waste was discovered on the coast and in mountainous areas.