Bio - Medical Waste
Bio - Medical Waste
Table of Contents
Medical care is vital for our life, health and well being. But the waste generated from medical activities can be hazardous, toxic and even lethal because of their high potential for diseases transmission. The hazardous and toxic parts of waste from health care establishments comprising infectious, bio-medical and radio-active material as well as sharps (hypodermic needles, knives, scalpels etc.) constitute a grave risk, if these are not properly treated/disposed or is allowed to get mixed with other municipal waste. Its propensity to encourage growth of various pathogen and vectors and its ability to contaminate other non- hazardous/non-toxic municipal waste jeopardises the efforts undertaken for overal l municipal waste management. The rag pickers and waste workers are often worst affected, because unknowingly or unwittingly, they rummage through all kinds of poisonous material while trying to salvage items which they can sell for reuse. At the same time, this kind of illegal and unethical reuse can be extremely dangerous and even fatal. Diseases like cholera, plague, tuberculosis, hepatitis (especially HBV), AIDS (HIV), diphtheria etc. in either epidemic or even endemic form, pose grave public health risks. Unfortunately, in the absence of reliable and extensive data, it is difficult to quantify the dimension of the problem or even the extent and variety of the risk involved.
With a judicious planning and management, however, the risk can be considerably reduced. Studies have shown that about three fourth of the total waste generated in health care establishments is non-hazardous and non-toxic. Some estimates put the infectious waste at 15% and other hazardous waste at 5%. Therefore with a rigorous regime of segregation at source, the problem can be reduced proportionately. Similarly, with better planning and management, not only the waste generation is reduced, but overall expenditure on waste management can be controlled. Institutional/Organisational set up, training and motivation are given great importance these days. Proper training of health care establishment personnel at all levels coupled with sustained motivation can improve the situation considerably.
The rules framed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Govt. of India, known as `Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998,' notified on 20th July 1998, provides uniform guidelines and code of practice for the whole nation. It is clearly mentioned in this rule that the
`occupier' (a person who has control over the concerned institution / premises) of an institution generating bio-medical waste (e.g., hospital, nursing home, clinic, dispensary, veterinary institution, animal house, pathological laboratory,...