Dec. 28: Biomedical waste, which was found to be one of the factors responsible for the death of patients in AMRI Hospitals fire in Calcutta recently, is not being properly treated in Guwahati hospitals either.
A section of private nursing homes and laboratories along with Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) has failed to comply with the rules laid out by the Union ministry of environment and forests, said officials of Pollution Control Board, Assam.
Chairman of the board M. Dubey today said even the incinerator of the GMCH had become defunct.
The incinerator of the GMCH is not working. Their solid waste disposal system is also not proper, Dubey said today. He added that they had informed the medical college but the hospital is yet to take necessary steps.
Biomedical waste consists of solids, liquids, sharps, and laboratory waste that are potentially infectious or dangerous and are considered biowaste. It must be properly managed to protect the public, specifically healthcare and sanitation workers who are regularly exposed to biomedical waste as an occupational hazard, Dubey said.
Biomedical waste differs from other types of hazardous waste, such as industrial waste as it comes from biological sources.
Common producers of biomedical waste include hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes, medical research laboratories, chambers of physicians, dentists, veterinarians and funeral homes.
The superintendent of GMCH, Ramen Talukdar, however, said the incinerator of the hospital is functioning well. Besides, our solid waste management system is tied up with Guwahati Municipal Corporation, Talukdar said.
According to the member secretary of the board, H.K. Gogoi, the city has only one common biological treatment facility at Rani that treats the biomedical waste of the nursing homes and laboratories in the city. Nursing homes and laboratories have to sign an agreement to treat the waste in the common biological treatment facility, but all have not signed the agreement, Gogoi said.
Gogoi said biomedical waste cannot be stored more than 48 hours and the board had warned all the nursing homes and laboratories to take adequate steps for proper treatment of the waste.
From January our vigilance team will visit every nursing home and laboratory to check whether they comply with the rules framed by the Union ministry of environment and forests. If they flout rules, stern action will be taken against them, Gogoi said.
Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998, was framed by Union ministry of environment and forests and notified it on July 20, 1998.
It provided uniform guidelines and code of practice for the whole nation. In this rule it is mentioned that the person who has control over the institution concerned or premises of an institution generating biomedical waste, shall be responsible for taking necessary steps to ensure that such waste is handled without any adverse effect to human health and the environment.
Injury from sharps to staff and waste handlers associated with the healthcare establishment, risk of infection outside the hospital for waste handlers or scavengers and eventually general public, occupational risk associated with hazardous chemicals and drugs, and unauthorised repackaging and sale of disposable items and unused or date-expired drugs are some of the health hazards associated with poor management of biomedical waste.
Studies have shown that about three-fourths of the total waste generated in healthcare establishments is non-hazardous and non-toxic. Some estimates put the infectious waste at 15 per cent and other hazardous waste at 5 per cent.