Medical waste must be treated and disposed of in a proper manner, given that improper management of such waste has numerous health impacts on the community and people working in healthcare facilities, as well as the environment. The Third EPR of Albania noted how the practice for treating medical waste has mostly remained unchanged since 2011. The legal framework currently does not take into consideration other steps in medical waste management such as differentiated collection of medical waste; transportation; or the packing, storing and labelling of the medical waste. Furthermore, according to a report undertaken on the implementation of the second EPR of Albania, a recommendation to secure sufficient financing to cover the full cost of medical waste management in hospitals and other health-care facilities was not implemented due to the lack of a long-term strategy for the sound management of medical waste. As such, the current situation for medical waste management in Albania has hit a critical point given the potential environmental hazards and risks to public health.
To tackle these challenges, the UNECE has supported Albania to address its management of medical waste. The overall objective of UNECE support is to protect human health in Albania, with more specific objectives and recommendations which include: guiding medical waste producers to properly manage and handle their waste; encouraging the monitoring of medical waste management activities and controlling of medical waste management in order to meet environmental obligations; and providing an updated legal framework for the management of medical waste. Given the limitations of the legal system regarding medical waste management, a robust legal framework was proposed, from establishing requirements aimed at controlling medical waste management; developing a methodology for the management of medical waste and of residuals after treatment; developing a structure for the annual reporting on medical waste generation, disposal and incineration by medical waste producers to the relevant ministries and the Institute of Statistics.
Whilst the overall objective of these measures is to protect the public’s health in Albania, this will also have a beneficial effect on the environment with the reduction and proper treatment of medical waste. This is even more pertinent given the challenges posed by the COVID-19 disease regarding waste.