Hospitals found guilty of dumping medical wastes

Hospitals found guilty of dumping medical wastes
Highlights

Hospitals Found Guilty of Dumping Medical Wastes. Subbiah and Balu are scavengers and both have been diagnosed with Hepatitis C. They work in and around Hyderguda and Abids where two leading hospitals are located. Hepatitis C is rapidly spreading among young garbage pickers and scavengers, as they pick up used syringes and other clinical waste from different government and private hospitals of the city for recycling.

A study reveals that bio-hazardous waste dumped carelessly by hospitals causes 10-15% infections among the public in Andhra Pradesh. Most of these hospitals either dump the hazardous waste in regular drainage or dispose them in open bins along with solid wastes

“A few days ago near Metro Mall, KPHB, Apollo Hospital had dumped medical waste in a DCM at 11pm”

Subbiah and Balu are scavengers and both have been diagnosed with Hepatitis C. They work in and around Hyderguda and Abids where two leading hospitals are located. Hepatitis C is rapidly spreading among young garbage pickers and scavengers, as they pick up used syringes and other clinical waste from different government and private hospitals of the city for recycling.

Most hospitals and diagnostic centres do not dispose their infectious waste properly. A significant amount of medical waste is generated through material used for patient diagnosis, treatment or immunisation and may pose significant risks to human health and the environment, if not managed and disposed of appropriately.

The bio-medical waste generated from hospitals causes 10-15 per cent infections in Andhra Pradesh, revealed a survey released by Multipurpose Awareness Society in Hyderabad. About 6,600 hospitals across Andhra Pradesh generate 2,166 tonnes of bio-hazard waste every day. Most of these hospitals either dump the hazardous waste in regular drainage or dispose them in open bins along with solid wastes.

According to Boda Nageswar, president, Multipurpose Awareness Society, a majority of hospitals in the state are unmindful of the environment and throw their bio-medical hazardous wastes in open bins and wastewater drains without treating it. He claimed that because of this, 10-15 per cent of infections are caused by the bio-hazardous wastes in the state.

“With no proper training to hospital staff and no dedicated work force to pick and dispose of bio-medical waste generated in the hospitals, there is a high risk of infections caused by used needles and blades,” said Nageswar.

This medical waste consisting of sharps, which include needles, syringes, scalpels and other sharp objects; pathological waste, including blood, mucus and anatomical parts or tissues removed during surgery or autopsy; chemical waste, including the products used during cleaning and disinfecting processes; pharmaceutical waste, which consists of expired, unused, spilt and contaminated pharmaceutical products, drugs and vaccines; and radioactive waste from medical therapy and research.

“A truck allegedly filled with hazardous biomedical waste was intercepted by a local leader near Abids a few days ago. The private truck was allegedly carrying 200 plastic bags filled with used syringes, saline bottles, urine bags and needles. The driver told us that he was taking the waste to recycle. We seized the truck. The driver and cleaner fled,” said Sharad Kumar, a local BJP leader.

“A few days ago near Metro Mall, KPHB, Apollo Hospital had dumped medical waste in a DCM at 11pm,” said Sunkanna, a rag picker in the area. Last year the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) had served notices to 54 public and private hospitals of the city for improper disposal of biomedical waste. These hospitals came under the scanner of the board which had conducted surprise raids at about 100 medical establishments which included government and private hospitals.

According to the Bio Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998, different kinds of waste generated by hospitals must be kept in colour-coded boxes. As per the provisions of these rules, all hospitals are required to segregate bio-medical waste into different containers according to a colour code and if the hospitals do not have its own bio-medical waste treatment facility, then the containers are to be transported from the premises of the hospital to the common bio-medical waste treatment. Hazardous waste such as bandages, gauze, cotton or any object that has body fluids, human body parts or placenta, are to be stored for further disposal in yellow containers or bags; plastic waste such as catheters, injections and syringes in red bags; all types of glass and discarded or expired medicines in blue bags; needles without syringes, blades, sharps and all metal articles in black bags.

“Mercury in hospital waste poses another serious problem. Many hospitals are trying to phase out its usage by using alternatives such as electronic thermometers. Even dentists are opting for alternative composites like ceramic to fill cavities,” explained Prof Agarwal, a research scientist on bio-medical wastes.

The pollution control board had authorised three operators for the collection, treatment and disposal of biomedical waste from as many as 3,000 health care units in the city. But there are plenty of small clinics that don’t fall under the PCBs radar.

“Big government and private hospitals work with waste disposal operators but there’s no one to keep a check on small clinics. They usually dump their biomedical waste in open grounds,” says Shankaran of PCB. He added that a joint effort by clinics, hospitals and the government is the only way out of the crisis.

Jaiprakash Namburu of I GO GREEN foundation has been making several representations to enforce proper bio-medical waste management. “It’s shocking to see that municipal workers collect waste from hospitals directly from KPHB and dump it at Road No 1. Burning, illegal dumping with reduced dumping bins (8 to 4) and medical waste is directly handled by poor workers.

On several occasions, we wrote to the PCB to review the waste management plans of the hospitals so that the flu and virus along with poisonous medical waste doesn't kill the society.” said Jaiprakash.

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