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P A Francis
Thursday, September 7, 2017, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The Union Ministry of Environment issued a set of draft guidelines early last month for developing a bar code system to be adopted by hospitals and other healthcare facilities in the country in compliance with the Bio-Medical Waste Management (BMWM) Rules, 2016.The objective of framing a bar code system is to effectively track sources of generation of waste to their final destination of treatment and disposal. Bar code system may also help in identifying sources in case waste is disposed of improperly as well as quantification of bio-medical waste generated. The bar code label is expected to contain name of the healthcare facilities, place, postal PIN code and unique number of the HCF granted by the State Pollution Control Boards or Pollution Control Committees in Union Territories. The ministry invited suggestions and objections from various stakeholders such as SPCBs, PCCs, Armed Forces Medical Services, hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, veterinary institutions, pathological laboratories, blood banks, etc by August 25, 2017. Hospitals, nursing homes and other HCFs generate various kinds of wastes from their wards, operation theatres and outpatient areas. These wastes include bandages, cotton, soiled linen, body parts, needles, syringes, medicines, laboratory wastes, etc. which carry infection and should be properly collected, segregated, transported, treated and disposed of to prevent contamination and infection. According to the Ministry of Environment, gross generation of biomedical waste in India is 4,05,702 kg per day of which only 2,91,983 kg is disposed of, which means that almost 28 per cent of the waste is left untreated and not disposed finding its way in roadside dumps or water bodies.

Biomedical waste generation has been a serious environmental issue the country has been facing for the last many decades with steady increase in the number of hospitals, nursing homes and clinics in the private sector across the country. Only some large hospitals have a scientific system of managing their waste including biomedical waste as of now. And most of the nursing homes and clinics have not been following the right practice of handling these hazardous waste. It is in this context, the new Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 was notified in March last year to bring a change the way the country has been handling biomedical waste. Prior to that, the Union Ministry of Environment had published a draft of Bio-Medical Waste (Management & Handling) Rules in April 2015 for getting responses from various stakeholders. These draft rules were an improvement over the draft rules of 2011 which largely remained unimplemented due to non cooperation of the state governments. As per the figures available with the Ministry of Environment, more than 53 per cent of HCFs operating in the country are without adequate authorization from SPCBs or PCCs. This should mean that waste generated from such facilities goes unaccounted and is dumped at unauthorized places without any treatments. All these issues point to the fact that management of healthcare facilities in the country is in a terrible state. It is not that the country does not have stringent laws to maintain minimum standards but because of a total lack of cooperation by the state governments in implementing and enforcing these rules. Take the case of Clinical Establishment Act 2010. Although this Central Act, requiring all healthcare establishments to register with the state governments and passed 7 years ago, only 8 states have adopted it so far. Healthcare being more of a state subject, the local governments have the freedom and responsibility to build a strong infrastructure for the healthcare of the people. In fact, they have that freedom but most of them are irresponsible as evident from a series of hospital tragedies taking place in some of the states of late.


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abdirashid abdulahi Dec 26, 2017 11:55 AM
Pradeep Awasthi Sep 8, 2017 9:11 PM
In a densly populated country like india,pollution and contamination are the root cause of unhealthy enviorment.This is further more being worsening day by day in big metropolitans of india,which are having overcrowded large hospitals,nursing homes,,surgical centres and blood bank,where large amount of biomedical waste generated in form of bandages,cottons,needles,syringes and medicines,which is up to some extent disposed on open roads and near by drainages and creates waste induced pollution
This is being only the reason union ministry had drafted the policy in favour of Biomedical waste management,where bar code system having details of place,postal pincode and name of health institution helps them to access the resource of improperly disposed waste,which is governed by pollution control committee.
Though the intiatives taken by union ministry in controling this contamination are instrumental,but state government need to create infrastructure for its timely
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