Karachi: Serious health hazards are being posed by improper medical waste disposal, causing an increase in communicable diseases.
A Senior Administrative officer of Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK), on condition of anonymity, said that incinerator of hospital was out of order and that the improper waste disposal was putting lives of millions at risk.
The hospital waste which requires proper handling includes materials like disposable syringes, drips, urine or blood bags, human body parts, needles fluid and others. Internationally several protocols have been developed to ensure safe disposal of such hazardous waste. He further added that sanitary workers sort out the waste manually and often disposed the waste together. He also feared that several materials like syringes and bags are reused, putting lives of millions at risk.
The decade old CHK incinerator is considered outdated and in spite of it not working the hospital management is charging Re. 1 from every patient on account of hospital waste management fee. This leaves the hospital with insufficient funds for waste management. Several appeals have been made to the provincial government to provide the required funds to overcome the problem.
The CHK has over 24 departments and patients’ wards, with a capacity for about 1,900 in-patients. The out-patient has a daily turnout of 4000, making this the busiest hospital in Pakistan.
Several other government and privately-operated hospitals are improperly disposing their waste too. This is a criminal practice and is punishable by law. The local health and environment protection departments have failed to make any checks on the ongoing crisis. Further, no plans are in place to take corrective measures.
The improper waste disposal may give rise to an increase in the prevalence of dangerous diseases like Hep B,C and even AIDS.
Medical Superintendent Civil Hospital Karachi Prof Muhammad Saeed Qureshi has said that a request for new incinerator has been sent to the health department and it is pending for approval.
Secretary General Pakistan Medical Association, Mirza Ali Azhar, has also taken note of the situation and said that medical waste has caused environmental contamination.
The government has been urged to take note of this potentially disastrous situation; and to act before it is too late.