A precondition of any factory or industry getting the administration’s nod to operate is its effluent treatment capability and waste disposal facilities. And nowhere is it more applicable than to hospitals and clinics. However, a number of reports published by this newspaper recently, particularly one published on November 22, shows that neither those that run hospitals—government or private—nor the department of health and health administration appear to be concerned about the way hospital waste is disposed of. We cannot believe that the hospital authorities are oblivious of the hazards that improperly-handled medical waste poses to public health. It is simply indifference; such a blatant disregard for public well-being is contemptible. And it is not that only the capital is burdened with the problem. Another report published on October 26 gave us an equally bleak picture of the divisional towns.
It is not necessary here to restate the entire litany of dangers that the public are being exposed to every day because of this. Our reports do a very good job in this regard. However, it is essential to highlight some aspects of the issue to put the matter in perspective. Firstly, it is clear that most hospitals do not have a proper waste disposal or treatment system. And secondly, neither does the administration have the capacity to handle the entire volume of medical waste produced in the capital. For example, the only party authorised by the administration to manage the waste of nearly a thousand hospitals and clinics can only handle less than ten percent of the total waste produced. The most dangerous aspect is that the recycled waste enters the production and consumer chain, being used as raw materials to produce consumer goods. Consequently, not only the users but those involved in the production chain are also affected. The consequence will be felt not immediately but after a few years.
It is irksome that there has been no change in the state of waste management in hospitals and health centres in spite of the many reports in the media. Furthermore, the administration remains unmoved. But no time should be wasted in addressing a grave danger that is bound to have serious consequences on the nation’s state of health.