THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : Unscientific management of biomedical waste at the premier govt hospital has alarmed residents and raised serious concerns on health, especially amid pandemic. But authorities claim only non-biomedical waste is dumped in area behind the buildings
The Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital campus is now dotted with green bags to dispose of biomedical waste such as used syringes, gloves, PPE kits, blood-stained cotton and bandages, and other garbage. However, one can still see huge heaps of unattended biomedical waste dumped on the vacant land raising serious concerns on human health, especially in the wake of the pandemic.
According to the Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016, all hospitals are mandated to segregate their medical waste into four colour-coded categories such as yellow, red, white and blue and send it to the nearest common biomedical treatment facility. The Pollution Control Board can take strict action against healthcare institutions that fail to abide by the rules.
The uncontrolled piling up of biomedical waste has turned the MCH campus into a breeding place for mosquitoes. More than seven tonnes of waste is generated daily by the hospital and other institutions such as SAT Hospital and Regional Cancer Centre (RCC).
“For years, the two-acre plot behind the buildings on the campus has been a dumpyard for medical waste from various institutions nearby. Strays and birds can be seen feeding on the same. The situation worsens during the rainy season due to the stench that emanates from the heaps,” said Suresh (name changed) who helps transport patients to the hospital. He also added that nearby residents have lodged several complaints, but no action has been taken to address the issue.
The treatment of biomedical waste is streamlined by IMAGE (IMA- Goes Eco-friendly), a biomedical waste treatment facility at Palakkad under the Indian Medical Association.According to IMAGE officials, the facility has been treating more than seven tonnes of Covid waste daily and around 30 to 35 tonnes of non-Covid biomedical waste from affiliated hospitals across the state everyday. “The quantity has doubled ever since the pandemic outbreak. From Thiruvananthapuram MCH alone, we have been collecting about five tonnes of medical waste per day,” said an official at IMAGE.
Peter said since the quantity of biomedical waste generated per day has doubled, IMAGE has increased the number of vehicles collecting the waste. Currently, there are 71 waste collection vehicles. He also added that a biomedical waste treatment facility at Brahmapuram, Kochi, is in the pipeline.
What MCH authorities say
Hospital authorities claim that biomedical waste generated at the hospital is being handed over to IMAGE. “Only the non-biomedical waste generated at the hospital, which disintegrates, is buried in the land set aside for constructional purposes. However, it is mostly being used for parking purposes by people visiting the hospital,” said Sharmad M S, superintendent, MCH. “Currently, there is one incinerator on the campus for tackling non-biodegradable waste. Besides this, there are six biogas plants for managing biodegradable waste generated inside the campus. As the quantity of non-biodegradable waste generated at the hospital and other centres such as SAT and RCC inside the campus has increased, we are planning to set up another incinerator soon,” he added.