Poor Medical Waste Disposal Standards Causing Health Problems in India

The improper disposal of bio-medical waste by several health centres in Andhra Pradesh, India is posing a health hazard.

Markets & Policy
10 January 2011

The improper disposal of bio-medical waste by several health centres, mainly dental clinics, primary health centres, community health centres and diagnostic centres poses a health hazard to the general public, sanitation workers and rag pickers in the East Godavari District of the north coastal area of Andhra Pradesh, India according to the Deccan Chronicle.

More than 400 health centres exist in the district at present and a large number of hospitals are located in Ra-jahmundry and Kakinada.

Even though a good number of such hospitals subscribe to the common bio-medical waste treatment facility located in Palla Kadiam village for the safe disposal of such waste, a large number of dental clinics run by private parties, primary health centres and community health centres are reportedly disposing of waste in open drains and garbage bins maintained by sanitation workers of the municipal corporation in urban areas.

The Deccan Chronicle claims that most field level sanitation jobs are outsourced and workers are not given hand gloves, shoes and mask to wear while at work.

This poses a grave threat to their health as they come into contact with blood soaked cotton pieces, used syringes and remnants of flesh generated at the time of surgery and other bio-medical waste.

Rag pickers are also vulnerable for getting infected when they come into contact with such waste.

Though there is no record being maintained by health authorities, sanitation workers and rag pickers reportedly complain of frequent health problems.

Bio-medical waste being generated in rural health centres is being buried in small pits near the centres itself and gets exposed when stray dogs and pigs dig it out in search of food. Lack of funds is said to be the reason for rural health centres failing to subscribe to the common bio-medical waste treatment facility.

Lack of regular supervision of health centres by the Pollution Control Board on disposal of bio-medical waste complicates matters further. Some health centres have given up their subscription to the treatment facility midway, while some others show low bed strength to avoid payment of more money to the authorities of the common treatment facility.