Bio-medical waste goes untreated

Doctors performing a surgery at the Green Operation Theatre at KIMS Hospital in the city, said to be the first to receive Green Certification.– Photo: Nagara Gopal  

ver wondered what happens to bodily fluids and other medical waste, which is generated from patients with infectious diseases, in the State-run hospitals like Gandhi or Osmania General Hospitals? Or for that matter, what exactly happens to huge amounts of medical waste generated from diagnostic laboratories in Hyderabad?

Ostensibly, such infectious and often toxic waste, end up in our drainage system, which in turn has the potential to become ideal breeding grounds for vectors and spread infection. They are supposed to be treated and disinfected by chemical treatment before they are let out into the drains. Or, hospitals with a capacity of more than 50 or 100 beds need to have an Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) installed to treat the effluents generated by them.

By rough estimates of the Pollution Control Board (PCB), Gandhi Hospital, OGH and NIMS in Hyderabad let out anywhere between 10 and 15 lakh litres of sewerage and close to 5 lakh litres of bio-chemical waste every year. The antibiotics, psychotropic substances and other drugs consumed by patients are not fully ingested and they are excreted that eventually find their way into the drainage system.

Ironically, none of the top State-run tertiary hospitals have an STP to treat the effluents. In fact, due to the huge amount of bio-medical waste being produced in these hospitals, the PCB had recommended setting up of STPs.

It was decided to spend close to Rs. 4 crore to construct STPs at OGH and Gandhi Hospitals, but so far, the projects have failed to take off. “What we have observed is that private hospitals have more or less improved their waste management process. However, there is a definite issue with segregating bio-medical waste by sanitation staff in government hospitals. Every quarter, we organise training sessions to teach them on how to segregate, but there is a need for behavioural change too,” Telangana State PCB officials maintain.

There are close to nine bio-medical waste treatment facilities in Telangana State that are hired by hospitals.

“Clinics and small nursing homes with a capacity of ten or more beds are doing okay. The bio-medical treatment facilities charge close to Rs. 3 per bed to collect the waste generated. It works out to less than Rs. 2,000 per month for clinics and nursing homes. But, I am not sure about the diagnostic labs, which produce a lot of hazardous bio-medical waste,” says past former president, TS Nursing Homes’ Association, R.K. Saluja.

Some of the most common issues that afflict bio-medical waste management in government hospitals as observed by the PCB officials include inadequate internal monitoring, lack of proper training to hospital staff to handle waste, lack of STPs etc.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 9:28:53 AM |

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