Medical Waste Management: A Serious Matter to be Fixed!
Poor healthcare waste disposal is becoming a major issue of a majority of healthcare centres as the population is increasing and spaces used for disposing such wastes is reducing. The management of medical waste in an inappropriate manner can result in poor waste segregation, storage, transportation, and disposal which might generate environmental and industrial menaces. Several nations, cities, and organizations are striving to deal with the surging medical waste developed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The management of healthcare waste is an increasingly evolving global concern. All healthcare activities produce massive quantities of waste, which when improperly managed can impact the environment as well as the health of community, and domestic and wild animals. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes medical waste as waste produced by healthcare activities which includes a massive array of substances such as used needles, body parts, syringes, soiled dressings, blood, diagnostic samples, chemicals, medicines, medical instruments, and radioactive materials. Poor healthcare waste disposal is becoming a major issue of a majority of healthcare centres as the population is increasing and spaces used for disposing such wastes is reducing.
Mounting Need for Safe Healthcare Waste Management
Treating and disposing medical waste in a safe and thoughtful manner can safeguard healthcare professionals, people as well as the local surroundings. The management of medical waste in an inappropriate manner can result in poor waste segregation, storage, transportation, and disposal which might generate environmental and industrial menaces.
Hence, there is an urgent need to implement a proper waste management policy for healthcare waste. The procedure for the implementation of an effective medical waste management system is intricate. It involves a waste analysis and assessment of prevailing practices, scrutiny of the available options for waste management, formulation of a waste management strategy, proclamation of governmental rules and guidelines, formation of a waste management association, appointment of human as well as financial resources, execution of procedures as per the set timelines, and a curriculum that handles timely training, evaluation, monitoring, and incessant developments.
How is Medical Waste Management Sector Changing with the Outbreak of COVID-19 Pandemic?
Medical waste generation from healthcare facilities including diagnostic centres, clinics, and hospitals, has increased much more than before with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. As per a report by Research Dive, the rise of the pandemic has optimistically impacted the growth of the global medical waste management market. To manage the increasing medical waste, organizations are taking initiatives to develop plans to treat the highly hazardous waste developed due to the COVID-19 infection.
Several government bodies of various nations are striving to deal with the surging medical waste. They are developing effective strategies to process the massively producing waste from hospitals. For instance,
- Since March 2020, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has given out plans from time-to-time under the Bio-medical Waste (BMW) Management Rules, 2016, and revised them to confirm that COVID-19 waste is handled with extreme care and safely transported to biomedical waste treatment and disposal centres.
- In May 2020, CPCB also introduced a mobile application - COVID-19 Biomedical Waste Management (BWM) App, to maintain a record of the fast-growing waste generation in real time.
- In December 2020, the NWRA’s (National Waste & Recycling Association’s) Healthcare Waste Institute (HWI) introduced a COVID-19 vaccine waste management guidance document with an aim to safeguard waste collection labours who are involved in the management of waste generated from the delivery of COVID-19 vaccine.
At present, globally, the terrible reality is that a massive amount of medical waste, including waste produced owing to the pandemic responses, is either wrongly treated with inappropriate technologies or not treated at all.
With the possible rise of the third wave of the deadly pandemic, it is vital to consider it as a priority to develop a system that cautiously collects hazardous and extremely infectious waste from healthcare facilities. Also, it is essential to train the system with important resources as well as skills to break the chain of the virus spread in the generation phase itself.
Plummeting the usage of PPE kits in non-COVID-19 zones and the usage of reusable facemasks and gloves is a possible temporary solution to diminish medical waste generation.
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