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Updated: February 24, 2012 14:20 IST

‘Medical waste' finding its way to plastic vendors?

P. Sujatha Varma
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Small parts of medical waste discarded by local hospitals at Suryaraopet in Vijayawada being picked up by a person who makes money by selling them again. Photo: Raju. V
The Hindu Small parts of medical waste discarded by local hospitals at Suryaraopet in Vijayawada being picked up by a person who makes money by selling them again. Photo: Raju. V

‘Safenviron' suspects role of lower-rung hospital staff

Medical needles, saline bottles, syringes, and other equipment used to treat patients suffering from various ailments in hospitals are meant to be discarded once and for all to safeguard public health.

But not all hospitals in the city are adhering to the norm. Vehicles operated by Safenviron, the authorised agency to collect and dispose of all kinds of hospital wastes, visit these hospitals daily to collect the waste but do not carry back 100 per cent of the discard.

This is because a small part of the ‘waste' such as used needles, saline bottles, and syringes is unlawfully retained and handed over to a few persons by the lower-level staff in the hospitals.

From the hands of the collector of this ‘discard', the medical waste finds its way to the local plastic vendors. The fact that the entire ‘medical waste' is not handed over to Safenviron drops broad hints at a foul game.

“As far as our knowledge goes, people who collect this used equipment sell it to plastic vendors to make small amount of money. But there is every likelihood of recycling of this material, which may again reach the shelves of a medical store,” says V. Venkateswara Rao, proprietor of Safenviron.

Awareness drive

His company has been trying to educate nurses and other staff of city hospitals the importance of destroying used medical equipment through workshops.

“We tell them to cut the equipment at the source immediately after use. For instance, the tip of the syringe should be destroyed immediately after use,” says Mr. Rao

Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB), on its part, has been trying to enlighten the hospital staff on the menace by displaying caution boards at Suryaraopet, the hub of hospitals and medical clinics in the city.

“Though recycling of medical waste has not been established so far, there is every possibility of the situation deteriorating if we do not keep a check. We'll intensify our vigilance in the days to come,” says S. Venkateswarlu, environmental engineer, APPCB, Vijayawada.

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