Bindu Shajan Perappadan

Small health centres show marked improvement in waste management

NEW DELHI: Despite extensive guidelines to regulate bio-medical waste in the Capital, several government-run hospitals and maternity centres across the city still handle their waste callously.

According to a new sample survey of waste disposal practices in Delhi's nursing homes, authorised by the State Department of Health, researchers found the conditions in government hospitals to be `unsatisfactory' despite the fact that the hospital staff were aware of safe biomedical waste management and disposal practices.

However, there is also good news for the city. The survey indicated a marked improvement in the practice of health care waste management in the smaller health care facilities in the city with most establishments following segregation practices.

For the survey, nursing homes and hospitals having 20 to 230 beds were selected. In all, Delhi has about 800 registered nursing homes and over 1,500 unregistered healthcare establishments. A list of various health care establishments (hospitals, nursing homes and maternity homes) in the city was prepared by researchers for the survey with the help of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee and the Directorate of Health Services.

Medical waste is listed under the "very hazardous category" as it can spread infection to a large population and though it may only be 1 per cent of total municipal waste it has a great potential to cause harm to human health. Another important fact is that health care waste often gets mixed with municipal waste making its safe disposal a necessity.

"The wastes generated from the hospitals are infectious and hazardous, and pose a serious threat to environment and public health if improperly handled, transported and disposed in public places. Therefore, there is immediate need for attention to devising and implementing a suitable integrated waste management plan for segregation, storage and treatment of the waste as per the rules," said L.K. Verma, who headed the survey team and runs a non-government organisation, VIKALP.