BIOMEDICAL WASTE

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BIOMEDICAL WASTE

Quality healthcare has been talked about as a matter of right in many judicial pronouncements. Besides the quality of service being provided, the level of hygiene has been a challenge in the medical centers of  the country. It gets bad to worse as we move outside of the metros to the backwaters of India. The Second Wave once again showed to the world the state of Indian rural medical infrastructure, and if any improvement has been made in the overall hygiene scenario in the last so many decades. It seems to the contrary. If medical negligence has been the one of the leading causes of deaths as proven study after study,  where does bio-medical waste stand?

The only difference is that the medical negligence can be documented, the treatment given to biomedical waste remains in the realm of the unknown. Given the current state of medical infrastructure in the rural areas, one is not even sure of the fact that scientific disposal of biomedical waste even comes onto the hospital management radar. National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare providers was created in the year 2006. What a late entry of quality assurance in the Indian healthcare system. Today also the number of medical care institutions under the NABH fold would be a small percentage. Do we have clear cut objective and empirical data about the creation of biomedical waste, its transportation and its scientific disposal / incineration?

The real quality of the hospital is its capability to handle the biomedical waste. Only this completes the complete medical treatment life cycle, when every single lateral entry into the medical treatment assembly line is successfully dealt with. The health impact of biomedical waste remains unaccounted for. If it is added to the medical negligence in this country, then together with medical negligence it  may turn out to be the leading health hazard in the country. In the fitness of things this has to be accounted for and the biomedical waste creating hospital should be fully responsible for its incineration. Otherwise, a group of hospitals need to come together and attend to the menace of their creation. If this has been the situation in peacetime, pandemic is a world war, what has been the situation now?

Biomedical waste has been a pandemic within a pandemic. Did we develop a protocol for COVDI-19 biomedical waste? This should have been dealt at a totally different level, given the nature of infection it can lead to. One is the quantum is of waste, second it is being generated by diagnostic centers as well, third it need not be from a known positively infected person, fourthly, we don’t know the quantum recycling, misuse etc, fifthly, the danger to the people who are handling this waste, which includes kids as well and finally do we have experts handling it or outsourced agents of the municipal corporations. Beyond the pale of urbane India even that is not there. How has biomedical waste added to the cases or deaths will never be known. It may have a role in the onset of the next wave, who knows.

BIOMEDICAL WASTE IS A SCIENCE BEYOND SCIENCE IN INDIA.

Sanjay Sahay

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