Saturday, 4 December, 2021

Incinerate toxic medical wastes

During recent visits to Sir Salimullah Medical College and Mitford Hospital and Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), our correspondent observed that toxic medical wastes like syringes, blood-bags, cannulas of patients with fatal diseases like cancer, AIDS and hepatitis were being dumped outside as well as sold by the ward boys and cleaners to traders who pay them in advance. To validate this, a photograph showing a rag picker collecting medical wastes outside Sir Salimullah Medical College and Mitford Hospital was published in yesterday’s Daily Sun front page.

We feel dismayed when someone from the Mitford Hospital, one of the oldest government hospitals in the capital, simply states that the cleaners have to dump the wastes outside to empty the bins as huge waste is generated daily. Rag pickers collect the saline pipes, syringes, blood bags, catheters, injection vials, etc. from the dumped waste which they sell to scrap shops nearby. A company having a contract with 1100 hospitals and clinics to collect and dispose of medical wastes, claims they do not get any used syringes and saline bottles from most of the government hospitals as staff sell those to traders and black marketeers.

It is a predetermined fact that a huge amount of toxic medical waste will be produced daily in a hospital. Therefore, preplanning of the disposal of the toxic waste must also be done keeping in mind the health and safety of the environment and people nearby. Mishandling of medical wastes can spread fatal diseases like cancer, AIDS and hepatitis. It can also get into the food chain by poisoning the soil and water bodies. The lethargy of the hospital authorities regarding safe waste disposal and the indifference of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) regarding the danger of contagious waste to the people and environment is incomprehensible to say the least.

However, some of our hospitals are following good practices too. Medical waste produced at the Kurmitola General Hospital, a dedicated Covid hospital, was burned daily at an incineration plant at the back of the hospital. This is as it ideally should be according to the Bangladesh Medical Waste Management Rules-2008, which states that medical waste, including used syringes, blood bags, cannulas and catheters must be crushed or incinerated.