‘Incident raises serious questions on how hospitals treat bio-medical waste’

A day after an infant’s body was found dumped with biological waste at the Mata Chanan Devi Hospital mortuary in West Delhi on Monday instead of the partial remains of a wrapped leg kept beside it, the revelation has raised serious questions on the manner in which hospitals treat bio-medical waste.

According to the environmentalists, a human leg alone is not supposed to be kept in a mortuary and two separate things cannot be dumped in the same manner without checking for infections first.

Environmentalists are furious over the ‘goof-up’. Even as they allege that hospitals in Delhi have a casual attitude towards of bio-medical waste, they also blame the Delhi Pollution Control Committee for being ignorant about such errors.

Hazard Centre director Dunu Roy told The Hindu: “The hospitals in Delhi by and large do not follow proper norms of bio-medical waste disposal as authorities responsible for monitoring them do not pay proper attention. It then becomes the prerogative of the hospital to manage things and they often have a careless attitude.”

Ravi Aggarwal of environmental group Toxic Links said: “People who work in the hospitals should know how medical waste is disposed of. If someone is disposing of a baby’s body as waste then there is something seriously wrong with the way they have been trained. This is a serious matter and we are going to take up the issue with the Health Secretary. We will make sure that strong action is taken in this case so that such incidents are not repeated again.”

Other environmentalists who The Hindu spoke to raised concerns about the issue stating that the staff in Delhi hospitals undergoes training to dispose of bio-medical waste at regular intervals and a malpractice like this is not expected of them.

However, when The Hindu contacted the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, the officials seemed to have a casual attitude about the incident saying this was a standalone incident and there was nothing wrong with the way Delhi hospitals function.

Delhi Pollution Control Committee chairperson Sanjeev Kumar said: “We recently conducted an audit of all the hospitals and did not find any major flaws with the way they all dispose bio-medical waste.”

Some doctors also admitted that the incident was a gross negligence on part of the hospital authorities. They also said that finding a leg in a mortuary was not something that should happen in a hospital. The authorities of Mata Chanan Devi hospital refused to comment on the issue.

Bio-medical waste is the waste generated during diagnosis, treatment or immunisation. Such waste is disposed of in a manner prescribed under the Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998. As per the rules, human anatomical waste, including human tissues, organs and body parts, should be burnt following a procedure and then sent for burial. Human waste which is infectious is separated from non-infectious waste and both are treated in a different manner.

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