India: Twenty Doctors In Trouble: Served notices by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board
November 25th, 2009
The Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) has served notices to heads of 20 hospitals in Ahmedabad for improper handling of plastic and biomedical waste disposal. With this, the GPCB has set the ball rolling for safe and timely disposal of the waste from hospitals in the city, a procedure that has been lying in limbo for quite some time now.
Biomedical waste is infectious and if not disposed in a scientific manner, can spread many life threatening diseases like HIV, hepatitis, tetanus, cholera and tuberculosis.
GPCB sources say, the hospitals facing action have not been serious about proper handling of used needles and syringes, unused medications, human anatomical waste and blood vials.
The untreated waste lies on the roadsides in front of their buildings. But discarding it off in such a careless manner leads to their reuse after they are carted away by ragpickers.
These hospitals are supposed to segregate the waste, disinfect it and dispose it off within a limited time - plastic waste in 48 hours and biomedical waste in 24 hours. A waste collection and disposal agency collects the trash from the hospitals and disposes it off at their sites in a scientific manner. Three waste disposal agencies, registered under Common Biomedical Waste Treatment Facility Association of India (CBWTFAI), are in charge of collecting biomedical waste from city hospitals. These are E-Coli Waste Management, Sembramky and Care Biomedical Waste.
As many as 2,754 hospital heads are members of these waste collection and disposal agencies. These hospitals are required to pay a certain amount of fee for getting the waste collected from their premises regularly.
As per the new rules, hospital waste has been classified into 10 categories, depending on which their treatment varies - ranging from autoclaving, microwaving, chemical treatment, shredding, incineration and disposal in secured landfills.
How did GPCB find out
As per rules, hospitals are required to update the GPCB daily on the amount of waste generated while the agencies put up details of waste collected from these healthcare institutions on their websites. A disparity found in the two figures brought 20 errant hospitals under GPCB scanner. An inspection confirmed that these hospitals defied directives specified for handling and treatment of bio-medical waste by dumping hazardous waste on its premises.
Head of GPCB's biomedical unit H P Patel said: "We have served notices to 20 doctors for unsafe handling of hospital waste. They have been asked to submit an explanation within 15 days. While they do that, we have asked the regional GPCB office to monitor whether these hospitals are still violating rules. If that is the case, they will be served closure notices."
A lot of the deadly plastic waste has been finding its way out from clinics and into plastic manufacturing units. These are then used to manufacture toys, combs and plastic cups.
President of CBWTFAI's Gujarat chapter Vinod Kachhadia said: "As much as 7 to 8 tonnes of hospital waste is generated in the city daily. Each agency collects and disposes off nearly 2.5 tonnes. Eversince the cops busted the illegal biomedical waste trade in Modasa, the hospital waste being generated has increased by 30 per cent. In the last eight months, 158 doctors in the state have been served notices."
Original article in the Ahmedabad Mirror.