Hospital waste! What is this entity? Do we even consider it something to fret over in a country like Pakistan where people do not even think that it is their duty to throw out their OWN waste items? Well the truth is that this enigma is all caused because of one, the less knowledge of people and two, because educated personals behave as though they lack the knowledge that they’ve actually learnt!
So, getting back to the topic, what exactly is hospital waste? It is actually any waste which is generated in the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings or animals or in research in a hospital. Technically speaking, hospital waste is a special type of waste produced in small quantities carrying a huge level of infection and injury. So yes! It is a big deal because if it is not handled properly then there would be serious health effects from the public health standpoint.
When we talk about hospital waste, what we think is when does hospital waste even become hazardous? In real up to 75-90% of the waste is non-hazardous we call it general waste and remaining 10-15% is hazardous to human health. Hospitals generate huge sums of garbage. Some bewilderment must be felt after knowing that according to the most recent data available from eco-friendly health care network Green health, hospitals generate about 33.8 pounds of waste per day, per staff.
However, the good news is that of the total amount of hospital wastes generated by healthcare activities, about 80% is general waste. It’s mainly just trash which is not at all harmful but just really junk taking up space.
But then again, the bad news is that about 20% of these hospital wastes are not!
In fact, much of that, some 2.36 billion pounds in hospital waste is actually quite dangerous, and that is exactly why each hospital in the country ought to work with a medical waste treatment company.
So basically a few scary things can occur if infectious medical waste disposal methods aren’t implied.
Mishandled hospital wastes could spread diseases and infections.
Hospital wastes tend to consist of potentially harmful microorganisms that can infect hospital patients, health-care workers, and the general public if not disposed of correctly.
It consists of infectious waste, pathological waste, sharps, pharmaceutical waste, Geno toxic waste, chemical waste and radioactive waste.
So dangerous are some diseases that even lightly soiled materials need to be destroyed.
Mishandled hospital wastes could puncture their containers, injure people, and infect them.
One type of medical waste that’s particularly dangerous is referred to as sharp medical waste.
These are the scalpels, syringes, and other sharp objects used in health care activities. If they’re not disposed off correctly, they could puncture or cut their container, and then hurt anyone handling the waste, exposing them to an infection. The syringes used in one patient cannot be used in another patient, that may be obvious to all, but it is also true that in other countries of the world, used syringes and items with blood are to be burnt right away! Blood bags are also something to decipher. Infected blood can spread AIDs and other heterogeneous diseases. Moreover, plastic is something which is the hardest to decompose
Hospitals waste includes subdued organs of patients too; this can spread disease widely if not disposed of properly.
Unfortunately, these types of incidents are a lot more common than you’d think!
It is obvious that there are millions and millions of syringes used every year in Pakistan. It is also true that the same needles or syringes are not disposed properly after they are used.
Though the vast majority of medical waste is just regular trash, 20% of it is dangerous, and needs to be treated.
Moving on to how hospitals in Pakistan dispose this hazardous waste, we look towards different techniques adopted. Among them is incineration- where the syringes and other used products are burnt. It is definitely clear that protection and safety measures kick in as well as a proper waste management plan.
Did you know that burning medical waste can cause pollution too? Or that it’s burning can cause the emission of toxins, mercury, metals and other pollutants like residual ash.So it is clear that it is entrails of never ending problems.
In Karachi, hospitals dumped their waste openly inside or outside the hospital premises, which was on daily or weekly basis. Only (25%) hospitals had properly designed storage areas with hard floors, good drainage and water supply, proper locking system to prevent access to unauthorized persons, inaccessible to animals, birds, and insects and had a ventilation system.
Plastic waste material and empty vials were taken by the sanitary staff for sale to waste pickers. In one of the hospitals, waste pickers collected the waste. These people are driven due to poverty and they collect this waste which can even lead them to skin infections!
Pakistani government ought to come into action and ban this wrong form of disposal and seal those medical facilities that can be so snobbish.
It is quite obvious now that the air the land and environment and all the organisms living on it are seriously affected by hospital waste.
An interesting fact is that when we want to decompose different types of hospital waste than we tend to use a colour coding
In our country, it is quite hard to implement any sort of law. Hospital waste is often discovered in different waste disposal sites where it really should not be.
According to environmental specialist Dr Huma Bajwa, due to the lack of awareness, people tend to handle the waste with bare hands thus raising the likelihood of spreading the disease. She also claims that
“Some 20 to 25 %of the total waste generated by health-care establishments is regarded as hazardous and may create a variety of health and environmental risks if not managed and disposed off in an appropriate manner”
When we say that we shouldn’t be a part of the pollution, then we should certainly mean it. It is true that we don’t really have much say and can’t do much either in this matter. It is the hospitals which produce the waste components and they are the ones who are to dispose them in a beneficial way so that it doesn’t cause any harm to the environment and the people living in it.
If we really want a solution then, at each administrative level, clear institutional and individual responsibilities should be established and, specific monitoring and administrative procedures should be set-up with adequate resources allocated to ensure the proper management of the hospital waste.
Also, there should be awareness and training programs for health officers and planners, hospital administrators, medical staff and environmental health officers should be developed.
Moreover, appropriate, environmental-friendly and affordable technologies should be selected for the treatment and the disposal of hospital waste, taking into consideration both technical and financial resources available in the country.
Pakistan is definitely still a progressing country, but the people ought to use their education to do right and benefit from it instead of being educated sloths!
Hospitals are for curing people but if we use the equipment utilized in curing people to in turn affecting people again, then that is definitely not at benefit for us!
Therefore, be part of the solution not the pollution!