In a document released on July 29, 2019 in line with the government’s directions to control environmental pollution from plastics, the Minister of Health (MoH) asked all hospitals, medical clinics, units, organisations, staff, as well as officials in the sector to take action.
Accordingly, medical units have to issue action plans to reduce plastic waste in their activities with details of content, targets, and implementation schedule. Moreover, they have to intensify the use of oral medicines as well as the use of environmentally friendly and recycled materials, medical equipment, packing, containers, and chemicals during treatment and diagnosis, research and studies, and other processes.
What is more, medical units must build criteria for the reduction of plastic waste and comprehensively classify, collect, and recycle plastic waste and persistent nylons in line with the current rules while providing training for their staff and organising activities to raise awareness among patients and their relatives about the issue.
Additionally, the departments of the ministry as well as provincial and municipal departments of health directly under central management will have to limit the use of bags, bottles, glasses, blows, dishes, straws, and other items made from single use plastics and persistent nylons.
Both medical units and departments are asked to limit the use of bags, bottles, glasses, blows, dishes, straws, and other items made from single use plastics and persistent nylons used at the meals and the drinking of patients, their relatives, as well as medical staff, while at meetings they need to gradually replace plastics with environmentally friendly and recycled alternatives to then phase them out completely.
To realise the MoH’s target, the Agency of Administration of Environmental Health must study and propose possible solutions to reduce plastic waste in the sector. The Agency of Health Examination and Treatment was required to co-operate with relevant agencies and units to study, revise, and supplement technical and professional processes to cut plastic waste and replace with environmentally friendly alternatives, while proposing to add criteria on plastic waste reduction to the ministry’s set of criteria to assess hospital quality.
The Drug Administration of Vietnam is required to provide guidance to manufacturing facilities and trading units in building their plans and roadmaps on plastic waste reduction in their activities.
The Department for Planning and Finance studies and proposes adding technical criteria to the regulations on the tenders of drugs, medical devices, and materials in line with the Law on Public Procurement so as to encourage environmentally friendly purchases.
Plastic waste has a plethora of negative impacts on the eco-system, living environment, and people’s health as well as the country's sustainable development. In a move to ease environmental pollution from plastic waste, the prime minister on May 25, 2019 made a call to the nation, urging concrete actions to deal with plastic waste.
Vietnam is struggling heavily with plastic waste as each Vietnamese discharged an average of 41kg of plastic waste in 2015, a jump from 3.8kg per capita per year in 1990, and the figure is predicted to rise to 45kg by 2020, according to the Vietnam Plastics Association.
Notably, plastic waste and plastic bags nationwide account for about 8-12 per cent of domestic solid waste. If an average of 10 per cent of that plastic waste is not recycled, approximately 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste and plastic bags would add to the burden of the environment every year.
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