Plymouth, UK | Accompanied by Ruth Stringer, HCWH International Science and Policy Coordinator, Mahesh Nakarmi – founder and director of the HCWH’s Strategic Partner in Nepal – the Health Care Foundation Nepal (HECAF) participated and presented in a meeting on Sustainability and Health Research Group at the University of Plymouth. Nakarmi was invited to share his pioneering multi-dimensional approach to health care waste management in Kathmandu.
During his presentation Nakarmi described and illustrated HECAF’s unique work in recycling, reusing and/or reselling up to 80% of all waste generated by the hospitals HECAF serves. This work is today recognised by the World Health Organisation as a model of appropriate technology for other developing countries to follow.
Nakarmi also discussed the unique problems of health care waste in Nepal, and HECAF’s commitment to non-burn technology, given that the Kathmandu Valley suffers exceedingly high levels of air pollution.
This presentation was also accompanied by Russ Pariseau, who has captured the work of Mr Nakarmi in a number of documentary films (click here to see the video or see below).
About HECAF’s work
HECAF uses autoclaves to disinfect plastics contaminated with blood and bodily fluids before recycling. Anaerobic digestion is at the heart of their programme for processing organic wastes, including some pathological waste. The resultant methane is used for cooking and, in some cases, to operate electricity generators. Nepal suffers enormously from extended power cuts – reaching 18 hours per day in the dry season.
HECAF also uses earthworms to recycle infected bandages and surgical dressings. Expired pharmaceuticals are dealt with in environmentally safe ways and the product packaging is also recycled. 2 million out-of-date condoms were turned into automobile tyres.
HECAF has even turned some non-recyclable waste into revenue producing physical therapy tools in the Burn Unit of Kathmandu’s Bir Hospital.
Nakarmi and HECAF have converted most Kathmandu hospitals to mercury free thermometers and sphygmomanometers. While the world attempts to come to an agreement about what to do with mercury, HECAF has created the only storage facility in Nepal for disused products containing mercury.
Video | Health Care Waste Management at Bir Hospital
Video by Russ Pariseau.