World Health Organisation has defined Biomedical waste as ‘Waste generated from hospitals, nursing homes, blood banks and veterinary institutions, including syringes, bandages, amputated body parts and other human and animal bio-waste generated during medical treatment and research.’ Sanitary pads are also categorised under bio medical waste.
Waste generated by healthcare activities can often be hazardous. According to WHO, about 15% of biomedical waste that is generated may be infectious, toxic or radioactive. Each year approximately 16 billion injections are administered in the world. However, the syringes and needles are not always disposed off properly.
India generates about 484 tonnes of biomedical waste every day. Managing this waste efficiently is imperative for health of environment as well as the people.
As of 2010, contaminated injections were responsible for almost 33,800 new HIV infections, 1.7 million hepatitis B infections and 315,000 hepatitis C infections. In fact, a person exposed to an injury from a contaminated needle has risks of 30%, 1.8% and 0.3% of being infected with HBV, HCV and HIV respectively.
Inadequate management of biomedical waste can cause severe damage to the environment by causing contamination of ground water, soil and air. It can also lead to increase in rodents, worms and insects that invites diseases like typhoid, cholera, plague and rabies.
In order to manage this waste effectively, the Government of India has passed a ruling regarding its segregation and treatment methods, keeping in mind the need for clean and green environment. As per the new rules, the categories for biomedical waste has been brought down to four from ten, in order to simplify the segregation process. Certain waste is supposed to be treated before its disposal. Incineration technology has been adapted in order to minimise the carbon footprint caused due to disposal of this waste. The new ruling is also taking vaccination camps, blood donation centres and surgical camps under the ambit of law.
The guidelines to dispose off the biomedical waste such as expired medicines or sanitary napkins from individual homes has also been provided. Certain liquid medicines are asked to flush off after they are past their expiration date. While other medicines are advised to not flush off as they might cause harm to the environment. As individuals and responsible citizens of India, it is important for us to understand the repercussions of being ignorant about the waste disposal management and be more aware to protect our health as well as the environment.
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The CSR Journal Team