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No proper system for monitoring waste management in hospitals.

Byline: Jamal Shahid

ISLAMABAD -- Environment watchdog Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) has yet to come up with a system for monitoring the waste management systems in public and private hospitals in the capital.

There are nearly 3,000 hospital beds in Islamabad and more than 7,500 kilograms of hospital waste is generated every day at the rate of 2.5kg of waste per bed per day, according to World Health Organisation and Health Services Academy Islamabad described criteria.

About 20pc of all hospital waste is extremely hazardous and needs to be properly disposed of.

Mohammad Ali Sekhri, who provides hospital waste management solutions, told Dawn that roughly 1,000 to 2,000kg of waste is properly incinerated.

'Infectious hospital waste is dumped in regular garbage, contaminating air and the environment. Some infectious waste is still being sold and recycled, including plastic, IV sets and syringes,' Mr Ali said.

An official from the Health Services Academy Islamabad agreed that most hazardous hospital waste such as syringes and plastics are being recycled.

The official said one of the largest hospitals, the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS),has nearly 1,300 beds and no waste disposal machinery or mechanism.

'Only Shifa hospital and the new 500-bed Pakistan Air Force Hospital have proper disposal machinery in the federal capital,' he said.

There are various types of medical waste including biological waste such as human tissue, blood, bodily fluids, organs and other similar waste from surgeries, biopsies and autopsies which pose health hazards, a senior official of the climate change ministry said.

'Clinical waste includes dressing materials for infected or surgical wounds, disposable towels, gloves, broken hospital equipment, needles, syringes, scalper blades etc. Medical waste carries bacteria and viruses and improper handling can lead to numerous diseases,' he said.

The official said most healthcare facilities care little about public safety and dispose of waste in roadside public bins.

'Medical waste is considered one of the most hazardous waste which requires specialised treatment and proposer disposal,' the official said.

Another official at the ministry says hospital waste is usually incinerated at 1,200AdegC to burn it to ash.

The city also does not have proper landfill sites to dispose of the ash and that too gets disposed of as regular waste.

He was critical of Pak-EPA for taking the matter so casually and responding to hospital waste management issues on complaint basis.

Ministry of Climate Change Director General Irfan Tariq conceded that poor hospital waste management continues to be a problem in the area.

'Most hospitals contract the services of the National Cleaner Production Centre in Rawalpindi, one of the only proper waste disposal systems. But it is not ascertained if all hospital waste finds its way to the centre for proper disposal,' Mr Tariq said.

The official said a PC-1 was made for procuring an incinerator for Pims on which little progress was made.

'The PC-1 is being revisited after a year to assess enhanced costs and is likely to be finalised soon,' he said.

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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jun 16, 2018
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