EPA concerned over improper disposal of medical waste by hospitals
ISLAMABAD— Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) has expressed concern over the improper disposal of medical waste by hospitals and clinics in the Federal Capital. According to an EPA official, the environment body conducted a survey in which it was found that 60 leading hospitals in Islamabad, including public and private health facilities, were not adopting proper methods to dispose of their medical waste.
On the directives of an environmental tribunal, an EPA team visited one of the biggest hospitals of the country - Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences ( PIMS) in Islamabad - at the end of May and reported that operation theaters were in poor shape and infectious waste was being disposed of in sewage lines.
According to the report, PIMS lacked proper system of solid waste disposal and
the hospital administration had been relying
on conventional methods of putting garbage in waste containers.
There is no incinerator in the Federal Capital for disposing of medical waste of public and private hospitals, which is being dumped improperly in garbage heaps.
An official of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences ( PIMS) admitted that the hospital did not have an incinerator for proper handling of the medical waste. According to Islamabad’s District Health Officer, improper disposal of medical waste was dangerous for the health of citizens and could spread infectious diseases.
The Capital Development Authority ( CDA) workers and private contractors collect the hospitals’ waste and then dump it along with municipal waste. The EPA official confirmed that all public and private health facilities were violating the Hospital Waste Management Rules 2005 on safe disposal of hazardous waste.
According to EPA, all hospital waste collected by the CDA and contractors should be disposed of at the National Cleaner Production Centre ( NCPC), the only facility with a modern incinerator, near Attock Oil Refinery in Morgah, Rawalpindi. The EPA had been constantly writing letters and asking hospitals in Islamabad to take their waste to the NCPC for proper disposal but its instructions were being flouted.
It was responsibility of hospitals, clinics and labs to ensure that their waste was properly disinfected and taken to the incinerator for proper discarding, he added. According to EPA official, there was no proper data available of the garbage collected by contractors. Nobody had been following prescribed environmental rules while the EPA lacked manpower to take remedial measures, he added.
On and off, the EPA had been issuing notices to hospitals and sending cases to the environmental tribunals for violating environmental laws but no permanent mechanism was in place for sustainable monitoring and rectifying the situation, the official said.