CAIRO: The Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs has impounded 33 tons of hospital waste slated to be illegally used by two factories in the manufacture of toys and cotton upholstery.
On Saturday, the ministry targeted a factory in Helwan, after receiving complaints from citizens in the area.
The relatively small factory was caught in possession of eight tons of illegal medical waste to be used in the manufacture of cotton upholstery.
On Monday, a much bigger factory, also in Helwan, was caught with 25 tons of hospital waste also to be used for cotton upholstery and toys.
According to a statement by the Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs, the seized items included blood-stained cotton wool, bed linen and used diapers.
Egypt’s penal code stipulates a maximum five-year prison sentence for the crime of illegally using dangerous waste. Others involved in the crime, such as hospital employees are sentenced according to the court’s discretion.
Dr Akram Al-Shaer, MP and ex-deputy of the People’s Assembly’s health committee, told Daily News Egypt that “a stricter law needs to be implemented in such cases . because [hospital waste] constitutes a direct and major threat to the health of Egyptian citizens.
In February MP Farid Ismail questioned the government’s issuance of licenses to factories that recycle medical waste including contaminated chemical substances detrimental to public health.
According to Ismail, there are “thousands of those factories in various parts of Egypt.
Ismail, who is also a member of the PA’s health committee, said that “the use of such substances constitutes a major health hazard leading to kidney disease or even kidney failure.
He alleged that an organized crime network has emerged as a result of the existence of these factories.
“The Egyptian government should punish all the bodies responsible for the existence of those factories along with all the monitoring bodies that should not have allowed them to exist in the first place.
Ismail’s PA interrogation request included questioning the ministers of health, trade and industry, environmental affairs and interior, who, he believed, were responsible in this “crisis.