Medical waste is extremely risky for the environment and human health. Because our green land is Bangladesh. And this green forest is the center of our biodiversity. Coronavirus is less common in humans. As if nature has got back its eternal form. But the environmental issues related to the health sector are adversely affecting the environment on a very large scale. Despite the public awareness of environmental issues in the health sector, they are not being addressed in hospitals. Among these issues, Medical Waste Management (MWM) is being considered as the most important issue. Because as the amount of medical waste increases, so do the health risks. Outbreaks appear to be exacerbated during the global epidemic of coronary heart disease. However, as there is no specific policy, these protective devices are being discarded after use. As a result, environmental pollution is increasing in the long run as a result of corona waste. At the same time the risk of corona infection is increasing.
In Bangladesh, only 7.6 per cent of health-related and medical waste related to Covid-19 is properly managed. The remaining 93.4 percent of waste is not under proper management. This information came from a study on effective medical waste management during the Covid-19 epidemic conducted by the BRAC Climate Change Program. Medical waste is now a big problem in different cities of the country including the capital. Waste management has emerged as a challenge due to the negligence of individuals and organizations, say those concerned. This problem has become more apparent during the Corona period. In mid-July, the court sent legal notices to the government concerned, including the Ministry of Environment, for full implementation of the Medical Waste (Management and Processing) Rules, 2006. According to a June report by the private development agency Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO), about 250 tonnes of medical waste was collected from the capital Dhaka in May. And during the Corona period it has been about 14,500 tons.
There is no accurate calculation of the amount of medical waste generated in the country every day. However, according to a report in the medical journal The Lancet, the total number of beds in 754 government hospitals and 5,055 private hospitals in Bangladesh is 1,41,903. Each bed generates an average of 1.83 to 1.99 kg of medical waste per day. It may grow further after the covid spreads. Although there is no specific information, various research sources say that about 52 lakh people are facing serious health risks every year due to mismanagement of medical waste in different countries of the world including Bangladesh. 4 million of them are children.
After March 8, the demand for this medical equipment is increasing day by day. Although there is a provision to disinfect medical waste through autoclave machine and burn it at high temperature, only a handful of hospitals are complying with it. Moreover, most people are throwing away these masks, gloves, hand sanitizers without disinfecting them. These medical wastes are on the one hand increasing the spread of infectious diseases and on the other hand they are causing damage to the environment. During the monsoon season, these wastes are mixed with rain water and discharged into various canals, ditches and rivers. As a result, water is polluted. Again, the germs of medical wastes mix in the air and pollute the air.
The study further found that 262.45 tons of waste is generated per day from health care materials used by the general public to prevent COVID-19 infection, which is completely removed along with household waste. Masks and other health care products are used by 61% of the people, most of them in urban areas. Those who use health care products remove it with household waste 100 percent due to lack of proper management. Cleaning workers also said they receive household waste as well as health care product waste from almost all homes. However, 61.4 percent of the respondents think that these wastes are at risk of transmission and 90.7 percent of the people think that these wastes are a risk to health and the environment.
The polythene that we are constantly using in tea, coffee, juice, grocery stores, including medical waste, lasts up to 50 years. As a result, the soil is getting polluted. The three elements of the environment are polluting the soil, water and air. Which is having an impact on our biodiversity, on the climate. Climate change is showing complex diseases of various animals such as respiratory problems, heart attacks, chronic bronchitis, cancer, etc. Unexpected natural disasters are on the rise. These wastes that we use constantly, including medical wastes, erode the land. If the fertility of the land decreases, food crisis may occur in the future. Which will have an extreme impact on our economy. Preservation of biodiversity is necessary for the survival of present and future generations.
Proper management and effective implementation of medical waste management and its impact on public health are very important in a country’s health system. In such a situation, experts say, according to the World Health Organization’s policy, safe disposal of medical waste is an important part of hospital design. However, effective system for safe disposal of medical waste has not yet been developed in Bangladesh. Bangladesh lags behind in terms of safe disposal of medical waste. There is a need to increase the importance of medical waste management in order to develop the country’s health system and address the current Corona situation. Although there was a law in 2006 on safe disposal of medical waste, it is not very weak or up-to-date. So, the experts demanded to amend the law.
Bangladesh’s health sector has grown exponentially, with the use of disposable or disposable medical supplies also increasing significantly. As a result, huge amount of medical waste is being generated every day. Most of these wastes are contagious, which can lead to disease transmission. Medical waste must be identified as a major cause of environmental disasters, including public health. Otherwise, the medical system of the country will not be effective and will not be able to meet the needs of the present citizens and future generations. The Medical Waste Disposal Act of 2006 needs to be amended. There is a need to build effective institutional arrangements for modern and scientific medical waste management. Because of the low efficiency, the medical waste of the hospital has now become a threat to public health.
For this, medical wastes have to be burnt in the hospitals as per the instructions. And we ordinary people who use masks, hand gloves, will burn them at high temperatures in certain places without throwing them around. At the same time people need to be made aware. It is time to take innovative steps by combining public-private initiatives.
For medical waste management, waste should be separated at the production site as per the color code. Transport Waste cannot be transported in the open state and must be deposited at the designated dumping station of the hospital. These have to be managed according to the classification of waste. It is often seen that some lucrative dishonest chakra disposable items such as syringes, saline sets, gowns are stolen from the dumping stations and re-released on the market. This increases the serious health risk. Ordinary wastes only need to be properly packaged and dumped separately.
If hospital waste management is not done properly, the infection will spread rapidly and we will fall into extreme health risks and environmental disasters. Therefore, it is necessary to introduce waste management in the isolation centers of self-care centers. Adherence to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization is essential. By properly managing medical waste, infection should be reduced. In this way we can protect ourselves and our biodiversity from hazardous wastes.
Environmental Science and Engineering
Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University
Trishal, Mymensingh, Bangladesh