The Legal Framework for the Treatment and Disposal of Hazardous Medical Waste in the Time of the Emerging Corona Virus (COVID – 19) Pandemic: An Analytical Study

Dr. Rana Mesbah Abdel Razek
Assistant Professor of Criminal Law
Department of Law, Deanship of Community
Service and Continuing Education
Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University
Riyadh, KSA


This study aimed to identify the risks of not disposing of hazardous medical waste, which is one of the most dangerous issues facing environmental management, and one of the riskiest types of waste because of the infectious substances it contains as well as the rapidly spreading viruses it holds. This risk is derived from the huge amount of these wastes and their increase due to the spread of (COVID – 19), which can harm people and the environment, due to the absence of the use of modern methods for managing medical waste, from collection and sorting centers until their final treatment and disposal. Thus, a legal system was put in place in order to manage this waste.
The study was based on a descriptive and analytical approach. It included three investigations and showed what hazardous medical waste is, how hazardous medical waste management mechanism works, the controls of treating and disposing of hazardous medical waste, and the Saudi legal framework for the disposal of hazardous medical waste. It concluded with results, including that failing to dispose of hazardous medical waste constitutes a continuous threat to public health and to the environment, and that regional and international agreements have contributed positively to regulating the management of hazardous waste.
The study included a number of recommendations, the most important of which at the Saudi level is the establishment of a specialized department for hazardous medical waste affiliated to the General Presidency of the Environment, the creation of an integrated and safe system for dealing with medical waste in each facility, and the increase of penalties for perpetrators of wrong disposal of medical waste. At the international level, the study recommended that the Main Committee of the Basel Convention prepare an appendix to the Convention for the possibility of transferring technology for the safe disposal of hazardous medical waste.

Keywords: medical waste, criminal liability, medical waste management, health care waste, public health, environment.

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