HCM City hospitals that fail to treat waste water properly after December 26 will have their licences revoked, a health official said at a meeting on March 29.

Almost 20,000cu.m of hospital waste water is dumped into the city sewerage network every day, most of it untreated, a study by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment found late last year.

But treating the waste water thoroughly is one of the six major tasks the government has set itself for this year, the director of the Department of Health, Pham Viet Thanh, told representatives from districts, health centres, and hospitals at the meeting.

Of the nearly 70 State-owned hospitals in the City, only 20 have standard waste water-treatment facilities.

The rest have systems installed 10 to 15 years ago that are now downgraded and overloaded, he said.

However, several hospitals face hurdles in setting up facilities to treat waste water.

Thu Duc Hospital is worried it cannot meet the December deadline because of a lack of funds.

The district 8 Preventive Medicine Centre cannot undertake any construction since its premises have been designated for appropriation for a public project.

Phu Nhuan Hospital, which has no waste water treatment system and discharges it into the environment, is planning to move but has yet to find a suitable site.

Hospital managers said there were several difficulties involved in setting up treatment facilities such as lack of space for them and selecting appropriate technologies.

Liquid waste from surgery, blood, and other body fluids, and waste water from washing patients and medical staff pose a serious risk to the environment and could spread diseases.

Officials from the Departments of Health and Natural Resources and Environment told the meeting that a comprehensive inspection of hospital waste water treatment systems will be carried out early next month. /.