When biomedical waste piles up

The city, which is neck-deep in plastic waste, has a new problem.

Published: 07th November 2018 08:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th November 2018 08:09 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The city, which is neck-deep in plastic waste, has a new problem. Residents are finding it difficult to get rid of the biomedical waste which is piling up at their homes. “It has been two months since I moved to Thiruvananthapuram with my bed-ridden wife. Diapers, syringes and cotton are lying in heaps at our house since nobody comes to collect it. I had to find someone to dispose of the waste but he had demanded Rs 4,000,” said Alias, a retired government employee.

The number of patients at homes receiving medical services for their bed-ridden conditions have increased in the recent years. Although the Indian Medical Association Goes Eco-friendly  (IMAGE) has provided a solution to health care institutions to dispose of the bio-medical waste generated in hospitals and clinics, there is no such solution for houses that have sick and bed-ridden patients.

The biomedical waste generated at homes include gloves, adult pads, syringes, unused medicines, sanitary pads, under pads and urine catheters. Although the quantity generated is much lesser compared to the piled up stocks at health care institutions, the hazard from bio-medical waste remains the same. Residents are sometimes forced to burn the waste and dump them in pits, water bodies or mix them with other domestic waste.

“The bio-medical waste collected from hospitals and clinics is effectively handled by IMAGE which has a treatment plant at Palakkad. However, there is no facility to treat the medical waste generated in households. The biggest issue is disposal of diapers. Although incinerators have been set up in hospitals to dispose sanitary pads and diapers, it is not the ultimate solution to dispose these kind of waste,” he said.
The biomedical waste generated in apartments and houses do not have a proper waste disposal facility. “ We conduct area-based meetings to chalk out mechanism on managing household waste. However, there has been no solution on disposal of bio-medical waste. The number of ailing people have increased over the years which calls for the need to have a separate facility to dispose of medical waste alone,” said J Moses, general secretary of Federation of Residents’ Association.

Corp looks at new alternatives

Though the Corporation had issued directions to hospitals and clinics to dispose of bio-medical waste in disposable pouches, much of the waste is dumped into water bodies or along the roadside. There is only one waste treatment plant for the 300 hospitals in the city. The Corporation is planning to set up biomedical waste treatment plants in houses. “Although waste such as diapers and sanitary wastes can be burnt in incinerators, its not a permanent solution. So, the Corporation along with the direction of the Pollution Control Board is planning to do away with these incinerators, “ said Alexander T, health supervisor.  The Corporation is also planning to emphasise on the need to use diapers and napkins made of cotton. Along with this, they have also planned to treat different kinds of bio-medical waste  in houses which will be disposed in separate colour-coded containers. “We are planning to launch a bio-medical waste treatment facility soon so that the waste is properly disposed and not thrown along road sides and pipelines,” officials said.

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