A multi-agency team led by the Department of Health Regulatory Services (DHRS) has reached out to local registered healthcare facilities concerning the issue of medical waste found on beaches in Grand Cayman.
At this stage of the investigation, which was requested by the Ministry of Health, Environment, Culture and Housing, registered healthcare facilities are asked to support the information gathering process that will help determine whether there is a local or international source of the waste. The investigation is currently underway and will include the Sister Islands.
Noting that reports of medical waste turning up on various public beaches across the Island have spanned many years, DHRS Director Mervyn Conolly said: “This waste poses a very serious public health concern and working group members are united in their desire to see to understand the origin of the hazardous items and resolve the issue as quickly as possible. We are confident that the public share the same desire and urge anyone who comes across medical waste in a public area to treat it with utmost caution and separate it from other waste.”
For safe and proper disposal of medical waste, persons should call the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) customer service number, 949-6696.
Tourism sector workers or other individuals who may have found medical waste on any beaches in the past are also asked to report their findings to the DEH customer service number. Under the current Public Health Law (2002 Revision) and the Litter Law (1997 Revision), DEH is the Government agency with sole responsibility for the collection and sanitary disposal of medical wastes generated in the Cayman Islands.
The multi-agency working group includes representatives from the Ministry of Health, DHRS, Department of Environment, Department of Environmental Health, Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Agriculture Department, Public Health Department, and the Health Practice Commission (HPC), which licenses local healthcare providers, including medical laboratories.
Government’s forensics lab has also undertaken to test the contents of a vial found on the beach to determine whether the source of the contents is animal or human.
Mr Conolly says the working group will report its findings to the Ministry of Health and the public once the investigation is complete.