Sunday, December 05, 2021

State quirked over disposal of bio medical waste

By EMN Updated: Sep 02, 2013 1:14 am

Suraj Pokharel

The sole focus of almost all cleanliness drives targets endless load of garbage. But an equally serious if not more serious threat in the form of bio-medical waste (BMW) from various hospitals, dispensaries, laboratories and other research organizations is totally neglected in Nagaland. They say the manner in which a family disposes its garbage reflects the character of the family.
Stretch this adage to the Naga society and a disturbing picture will confront us all.
Ironically, even the health care establishments in the state flout norms when dealing with disposal of its bio medical wastes (BMW).
The mushrooming of various health care establishments in the State in the recent past, particularly in the state capital and Dimapur, has gone from bad to worse. Except for the Military hospital at Rangapahar and Zion hospital and research centre (ZHRC), Purana Bazar, Dimapur none of the other health care institutions practice a fool proof BMW disposal system.
It has come to light health that care institutions do not segregate BMW but just dump it in DMC bins, gutter, and sewage drains or if there happens to be favourably located, a nearby stream. And other institutions may segregate the waste but without support in the institutions to dispose the waste matter, everything either piles up outside in the hospital complex and exposed to the elements.
DMC scavengers working their shift told Eastern Mirror how they have occasionally come upon human tissues and even foetuses in the dumping sites and consequent risks that plague them said the in-charge of the DMC scavengers, L Sangtam. He also mentioned that just recently two of his workers got pricked by syringes while cleaning drainage near ICICI Bank, Dhobinallah and he had to pay for their TT shots out of his own pocket.
“What if those syringes had been used on HIV/AIDS patients? We are all aware of our statistics in that department as we are also aware that anybody can walk into a pharmacy or a clinic and get a shot or dress a bleeding with no tests taken and no questions asked; and the resulting waste is unceremoniously dumped into a bin to be later dumped carelessly.
In an exclusive interview, Member secretary Nagaland Pollution Control Board (NPCB), Rusovil John, told Eastern Mirror that they have long sought to have a common incinerator (to burn medical waste at high temperature), in Dimapur so that all the bio-medical waste can be properly disposed off. Accordingly, NPCB has submitted ‘Detailed Project Report’ (DPR) to the Central government, but till date not received any response. To install an ‘Incinerator’ would cost around Rs 2 crores, he said.
He maintained that the project had also been submitted to Health and Family Welfare department which also seems to have turned deaf ears to it. He opined that it would be better to have a common separate disposal site for all the medical waste in Dimapur.
The Secretary pointed out that the NPCB conducts a health/pollution awareness campaign annually but the response from general public and health authorities are depressing. The medical fraternities do not approach the NPCB for required assistance and guidance, he lamented
The situation in Kohima is relatively better with regard to the issue, but here too an incinerator is lacking. The Kohima Municipal Council (KMC) has been authorized to collect and dispose the medical wastes. It is carried out by collecting medical waste in a closed body mini truck and disinfected before disposing it through deep burial near the dumping site near Kohima, John said.
While cautioning health care centers for careless dumping of BMW along with garbage, DMC Chairman Orenthung Lotha said that action will be taken on those found violatiing the norms. “Very soon we will be issuing notices to all the hospitals and clinics,” Lotha said adding that DMC is willing to arrange vehicles for those who seek to dispose off medical waste on payment of Rs 1500 per trip.
Zion Hospital and Research Centre (ZHRC) is taking care of bio-medical waste as it has facilities for segregation s of different waste materials, which include crushing of glass medicine bottles in a crusher and deep burial, furnace for burning of other intoxicating medical waste, disposal of liquid waste by disinfection and later allow it to drain into the Dhansari River. “Nagas are still lagging behind in proper education and public awareness regarding proper sanitation of BMW,” said Dr Mongwati Ao. Medical Supertentent, ZHRC.
The State’s state of the art hospital, namely, Christian Institute of Health Sciences & Research (CIHSR also commonly known as Referral Hospital) too lacks the facility of an Incinerator. The hospital authority alleged that DMC was not willing to dispose its BMW as it does not come under its jurisdiction. So like Dimapur District Hospital, DMC it also burns the medical waste near human habitats.
It may be noted that inhaling of this kind of toxic smoke can lead to spasms causing air passage to constrict and possible heart failure, asthma, skin allergy, allergic bronchitis and other related respiratory diseases.
According to the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Environment & Forest, any medical or research institution should submit an annual report on the disposal of bio-medical waste to the prescribed authority appointed by the State governments by January 31 of every year.
It is clear incinerators must be mandatory items for licensed health institutions but the question remains of the efficacy of such equipments in the light of more “darkness than light” from the Department of Power in the state.

By EMN Updated: Sep 02, 2013 1:14:08 am