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Headlines and Important Health Updates from the WHO

Why We Are Creating a Business Incubator for Our Kids (And How)

I’ve mentioned several times on my podcast that my husband and I have created a business incubator of sorts for our children. It’s a mini Shark Tank model that we will use to teach them business skills and life lessons during their high-school years. It’s easier to do this since we homeschool, and they’ll finish …

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By Mid-Century, Heat Waves Could Cover Far Bigger Areas

Previous research has predicted that the number and intensity of heat waves will increase, but this study is the first to examine changes in their potential physical size.

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7 Natural Remedies for Eczema

I get quite a few questions about skin problems like eczema and psoriasis. I’m not a dermatologist by any means, but I have had some personal experience with eczema (in myself and family) and have found some natural remedies that have helped us so I wanted to share. As always, ask your own doc and …

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Pet Turtles Linked to Salmonella Outbreak: CDC

Seven people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported, the CDC said in an update about the ongoing investigation.

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Waste management for healthier communities and environment

Technologies such as strategic recycling or biodigestion allow us to process waste and obtain different products, such as gas. Their implementation helps reduce the environmental impact of health care facilities.  

 

Plastics for recycling - Nepal 2017. Credits: Ruth Stringer

 Plastics for recycling – Nepal 2017. Photo credits: Ruth Stringer

October 7, 2019 was World Habitat Day, and this year’s theme was frontier technologies as an innovative tool to transform waste to wealth. Health Care Without Harm is currently working with hospitals in Latin America, South and South East Asia, and Africa to deploy innovative technologies and practices to help them reduce their waste and treat it sustainably.

Several of the countries where Health Care Without Harm works don’t have fully functioning waste management systems, so it’s not uncommon for infectious or hazardous waste from the hospitals to end up on the streets awaiting collection, to be burned in the open, or to be sent to open dumpsites.


Technologies such as strategic recycling or biodigestion allow us to process waste and obtain different products, such as gas. Their implementation helps reduce the environmental impact of health care facilities.


This is often the situation in Nepal, where HCWH has been working with strategic partners as Health Care Foundation Nepal (HECAF) for over 10 years. Informal recyclers would even come to the hospitals looking for plastics and other waste materials to sell.

Instead, partner hospitals now carefully segregate the waste so that it can be treated and disposed of appropriately, which includes using autoclaves to steam disinfect infectious materials and biodigestion for organic materials.

Over the years, recyclers have come to realize the value of the wastes from these hospitals, and the range of materials that can recycled has increased to include paper, glass, metals and several types of plastics. Even syringes, which have their needles and tips cut off at the point of use, can be processed into different products by recyclers.

Mahesh Nakarmi, Director of the Health Care Waste Project at HECAF, Health Care Without Harm partner in Nepal, says this is particularly important. “In the past we have found used syringes that have been repackaged and sold again to unknowing customers. Cutting the syringes means that they can’t be used again and once they are disinfected their high quality plastic is very attractive to recyclers”.

Biodigestors. Credit: Ruth Stringer.

Biodigestors. Credit: Ruth Stringer.

Biodigestion is also revolutionizing the way hospitals in Nepal handle their waste. Biodegradable waste including food scraps, and even placentas or tissues from operations used to be mixed with general waste, attracting vermin that could spread disease. Now biodigesters turn all this into biogas which can be used for cooking or water heating, reducing fossil fuel use and saving money.

Recycling and biodigestion both reduce the costs of waste disposal, says Ruth Stringer, International Science and Policy Coordinator at Health Care Without Harm Global, and one of the organisation’s waste experts. Not only is there less waste that needs to be disposed of, but good quality plastics can be worth over 30 US cents per kilo and the biogas generated from organic waste can be worth two cents for every kilo of waste treated. Even so, says Stringer, that’s not the biggest benefit.

“Preventing air pollution from incineration, keeping infectious materials out of the general waste stream and maximising recycling all make our cities cleaner, more pleasant to live in, help prevent climate change and reduce the threat to worker and public health from improperly treated healthcare waste. The value of that is incalculable”, she adds.

October 10, 2019

Global

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‘Smartphone Slouching’ More Serious Than It Sounds

The national survey, published Oct. 9, asked respondents their level of concern about eye strain, carpal tunnel and other potential health consequences of mobile device use. Only 47% said they were concerned about poor posture and how it affected their health.

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Cancer Screenings You Might Be Missing

Most women know about mammograms and physical exams to check for early signs of breast cancer, but many may not be getting recommended screening exams to help detect and prevent other types of cancer.

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