500 used syringes found strewn in an unused compound
Around 500 used syringes with needles intact were found dumped in a walled unused compound on K.P. Vallon Road near Kadavanthara on Sunday. The police are yet to register a case for improper disposal of biomedical waste.
The incident came to light when two youths spotted a rag picker rummaging through a heap of syringes in a compound with a half broken wall. On taking a closer look they were shocked to find hundreds of syringes with their needles intact. Rejin Joy, one of the youths, said the rag picker’s hand was bruised and bloodied. Mr. Joy immediately called in the police. The rag picker fled the scene once bystanders and the police reached the spot.
While the Kochi Corporation’s health wing official suggested that there were around 300-500 syringes, the youths claimed that there were at least 1,000 syringes.
The syringes have been kept under custody of the Corporation’s health wing. Though there were tags on a couple of syringes the police could not identify the doctor or clinic from where the biomedical waste came from. The police said it would register a case after it gathered more evidence.
M.X. Wilson, junior health inspector in the Corporation, said one of the tags revealed the name of a doctor and a patient. He said the syringes could have been dumped by a laboratory or hospital as they had tags of blood tests.
C. Santha, Health Officer of the Corporation, told The Hindu that once the hospital or the clinic was identified on Monday, the registration of the institution would be suspended. Action would be taken based on the rules for proper disposal of biomedical waste. The incident has taken place at a time when the district is yet to come to terms with the spread of hepatitis B in Ooramana. According to a study conducted by Manipal Centre for Virus Research, the infection spread due to negligent use of medical equipment and unhygienic practices at barber shops. Abraham Varghese, joint secretary of Indian Medical Association Goes Eco-friendly (IMAGE), a project that has been collecting biomedical waste from hospitals, said about 60 per cent of healthcare institutions in the district were its members.
“IMAGE provides a nozzle cutter and a needle burner to the member healthcare institute to cut the nozzle of the syringes and to burn the needles before they are disposed of. The precaution is taken to prevent the syringes from being reused,” said Dr. Varghese. He said there were dubious companies that repacked used syringes and brought them back into circulation.
Handling biomedical waste using bare hands had to be avoided as HIV/AIDS or hepatitis B could spread by an infected needle prick, said Dr. Varghese.