Beneficial solid waste going waste

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It is very much evident that there is no check on the beneficial solid waste generated in gynaecology ward of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), which is used in many drugs and cosmetic manufacturing, while four incinerators worth millions of rupees have become irreparable because of not being used for years.
Contrary to the legal requirements prescribed in the ‘Hospitals Waste Management Rules 2005’, the major public hospital in the capital is operating without any incinerators, raising fears about the spread of fatal diseases like hepatitis A and B, AIDS and typhoid.
The guidelines for waste management in hospitals, prepared by the Environmental Health Unit of the Ministry of Health, are said to be in practice since 1998. These guidelines give detailed information and cover all aspects of safe hospital waste management in the country.
It is worth mentioning that the PIMS have four incinerators but they are not in use as the administration claims these are out of order since long but it did nothing to repair them on practical grounds.
“PIMS do have the incinerators but they do not use them at all and send all the solid waste to Attock Refinery for segregation whereas the incinerators at PIMS are now useless because of absence of timely attention; therefore, the machines worth millions of rupees are now irreparable,” said a concerned official at the PIMS, while requesting anonymity.
He said the PIMS administration was least concerned about the vital issue as no one kept check on them to see how much solid waste was generated daily and how many bags of it and on what rate were sent to the refinery for segregation.
The PIMS claims that the hospital waste is being sent for segregation but an official at the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) disclosed that they were not dispatching the entire quantity and rather disposes of some infectious and non-infectious waste in open sewage lines and dustbins.
“They sale out some material, like the waste generated from gynaecology, on a high rate as it waste is used in manufacturing many drugs and cosmetic products,” he claimed.
Earlier, the Ministry of Health had also devised a ‘Healthcare Waste Management Action Plan’ with an estimated cost of Rs 1.6 billion around two years ago. However, that plan too was pending with the Planning Commission (PC) for the approval while the relevant ministry is now stands devolved. It is important to mention that it is Pak-EPA’s responsibility to monitor whether the hospitals are disposing of the hospital waste properly or not. But owing to lethargy on the part of it, it has not conducted even the required monitoring of any of the capital’s hospital for months and years.
Another official in the Pak-EPA, who also requested not to be named, said there were no systematic approaches on how to dispose of the waste, adding that the hospitals waste was simply mixed with the municipal waste in the collecting bins placed at the roadsides.
“Some waste is simply buried without any appropriate measures. The reality is that while all the equipment necessary to ensure the proper management of hospital waste exists in one or two hospitals, it is either not being used or the staff at hospitals fails to prepare and implement an effective disposable policy.”
“Look at the PIMS. They have four incinerators there but they are not using them because of internal politics and corruption, and claimed that these machines are out of order since years,” she said.
When contacted, PIMS, Deputy Joint Executive Director Dr Zulfiqar Ghauri said, “We send all solid waste to the Attock Refinery as the PIMS do not have any incinerator. The incinerators we had are very old and no new incinerator has them provided to us.”
According to Ghauri, many other hospitals send their solid waste to the same refinery for segregation which, according to him, is a safe procedure.
However, despite several attempts PIMS Executive Director Mehmood Jamal was not available for his comments as usual.