Gozo Hospital bonfires pose a grave public health risk – AD
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Speaking at a press conference beside the Gozo General Hospital in Victoria, Alternattiva Demokratika Chairperson Dr Harry Vassallo said that despite entry into the EU, the disposal of clinical waste from hospitals remained one of the government’s signal failures, disappointing those in favour of EU membership and giving those against more reason to retain their negative positions.
Victor Galea, AD General Secretary, said that in both Malta and Gozo, public hospitals continued to operate incineration practices which were in no way more advanced than a backyard bonfire. “While media attention has often been drawn to the chimney over St Luke’s Hospital, the one at the Gozo hospital has not often been mentioned. Because it is lower, there is even less dispersal of the toxins and pollutants which reach the residential areas at Tac-Cawla, polluting all those who reside immediately adjacent to the hospital.”
Mr Galea added that the government’s attempt to transfer the disposal of such hazardous waste to the incinerator installed at the Marsa abattoir is evidence of incompetence compounded unprofessionally. “The abattoir incinerator is specifically designed to handle abattoir waste and not the variety of waste streams generated by hospitals. It is also unprofessional to concentrate the delivery of waste containing human pathogens to a site used for the production of food for human consumption.”
Dr Vassallo concluded by saying that the interminable saga of hospital waste disposal has dogged the present government throughout its term and no adequate solution has yet been found. “The government has been unable to deliver because it has been unable to recognize the importance of giving hospital neighbours the rights which they are entitled to under EU law. The health hazards suffered by the workers at the Gozo hospital are simply taken for granted. The unbearable toxic smells from the waste burnt is a health hazard to the hospital neighbours while devaluing their property. A Green MP whose support is required to sustain a government would not tolerate such a scandalous delay” Dr Vassallo said.