One normally expects that health institutions be places where infections are cured. But these days that doesnt seem to be the case in Jammu. Take for example,the Government Chest Diseases Hospital in Jammu,where biomedical waste including used syringes,is littered just on the hospitals doorstep. Exposed syringes,which can carry infectious diseases like TB,are endangering the life of the inmates and the patients who visit the hospital.
In gross violation of the Bio-medical Waste Management and Handling Rules,most of the health institutions flout these norms,endangering the health of the very patients they are required to treat. More than 9000 kg of hazardous bio-medical waste is generated in the state every day,which hints at the amount of infectious waste that is out there.
In Talab Tilloo area,when it rains and water from the mini canal spills over to the road,the bio-medical waste,thrown in to the mini canal,gets spread over the roads with the swelling waters,exposing the state of the health institutions with regard to their bio-medical waste handling. Similar is the situation of bio-medical waste handling at many places around the SMGS hospital too.
Sources said that even the worn out incinerators in Jammus Government Medical College dont have pollution control devices like the soot filters,due to which the incineration of the bio-medical waste is adding to the pollution level in the city. The few incinerators in some of the government hospitals in Jammu are insufficient in dealing with the large amount of waste generated. Each bed generates a bio-medical waste of nearly 2 kg per day per patient. As Jammu has a collective bed capacity of more than 5800 and Kashmir more than 5000,one can imagine the quantum of bio-medical waste generated on a daily basis.
Medical experts have been stressing that a centralized facility,handled and monitored by one particular agency must be set up,where the type of waste requiring incineration can be destroyed collectively,but that has not materialised yet.
According to Dr Yashpal Sharma,an expert on Bio-medical Waste management,in the absence of common Biomedical Waste treatment facility,even the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) has given approval to a private agency in Pathankot for collecting Bio-medical waste from private health institutions in the state,but that hardly caters to the volume of the biomedical waste generated. He said that the SMGS hospital has an incinerator with capacity to just 5 kg per hour,while the GMC has a capacity of 50 kg per hour,which are outdated in the present context.
Even SPCB seems to have failed,despite taking up the issue with the health institutions saying that they must comply with the Bio-Medical waste Management rules. Recently even the SPCB chairman Dr C M Seth admitted during a workshop on Bio-medical waste that the hazardous Bio-medical waste continues to be dumped as the municipal waste in Jammu,endangering the health of the people here.
J&K initiated work on Bio-medical waste in June 2000 by documenting the ground realities of Health Care Establishments here through surveys,but still not much has been done. The surveys pointed out that either the hospitals dispose the waste by burning it in the open or they use double-chambered/single-chambered incinerators. Mostly,the incinerators are operating below the required temperature of 1000-1200ºC,the study stated,adding that even plastic (chlorinated) which should not be incinerated,is also being incinerated along with other waste. Bio-medical Waste (Management & Handling) Rules,being now referred to as BMW,came into being on July,20,1998,with amendments of March 6 and June 2,2000,respectively.