In a brief overview, healthcare related trouble areas in Greece are commonly linked to a variety of factors, waste not being one of them. Waste originating from healthcare facilities, often described as healthcare waste, requires a tentative and particular management, so as to ensure environmental and health protection. Healthcare waste management in Greece is generally considered to be problematic due to the numerous healthcare units present and malfunctions of the central administration.
The vast majority of units appears to be uninformed on legislative and technical requirements regarding sound waste management, while it is quite clear that such practices are not considered as major priority in their schedule. The particular challenge in this type of waste is their numerous production sources within a single healthcare unit, combined with the variety of waste produced. At the same time, organisational discrepancies and insufficient level of personnel training contribute to an overall problematic situation.
This is also extended to the greater waste management sector, since companies and agencies active in this area, face the absence of defined rules and sufficient infrastructure in the whole of Greece. LDK Consultants recently concluded the elaboration of the national waste management plan for waste originating from healthcare facilities, for the Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning & Public Works (now Ministry of Environment, Energy & Climate Change – MEECC). Main task of the national plan is to provide sound management of healthcare waste so as to guarantee human health and environmental protection.
Therefore, a continuous consultation with the competent authorities of MEECC and the Ministry of Health & Social Solidarity (MHSS) was essential during the elaboration of the project. National-level waste management planning was a challenge for all parties involved, since the elaboration of a detailed registry, review and critical analysis of all crucial factors was a main part of the project. Within the project frame, it is the first time in Greece that a national plan focusing only on healthcare waste has been elaborated, acknowledging in this way at an official level that problems exist and solutions are required.