Vietnam has decided to set aside one percent of its environmental budget for upgrading local hospitals' waste treatment systems by 2015, the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported Wednesday.
Last year the environment protection budget received VND6.23 trillion (US$303.16 million), and it was expected to increase to VND7.25 trillion ($352.79 million) this year, according to the news source.
It quoted Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Pham Khoi Nguyen as saying that medical pollution was a critical problem that needs to be given priority.
He suggested that the Ministry of Health makes a general plan for medical waste treatment at hospitals.
The VNA also quoted Minister of Health Nguyen Quoc Trieu as saying the ministry has in recent years invested in several waste treatment systems at major hospitals like Cho Ray and Thong Nhat in Ho Chi Minh City.
Another five central hospitals and 16 local hospitals in five provinces of the Mekong Delta will receive aid from the World Bank so Vietnam can achieve its target of treating over 300,000 cubic meters of effluents every day by 2015.
According to the health ministry, nearly 200 incinerators currently handle waste from 40 percent of hospitals.
However, just one-third of this is treated with advanced technology that meets environment standards. A lot of the waste is burned in open air or in manually operated burners, or buried within the hospitals' precincts.
It was estimated that every day healthcare establishments in Vietnam discharge some 300 tons of solid waste into the environment, and this is expected to double by 2015, the VNA report said.