Hospital waste

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The capital is home to many public and private sector hospitals besides numerous
laboratories as the city caters to patients coming in from far and wide. This huge industry,
however, has failed to pay attention to the tons of hazardous waste that it produces every
day.

The city has never been good in managing the general household waste either. The multiple
streams flowing down from the Margalla Hills turn into sewage channels as they pass through
the residential quarters. The waste dump sites at the outskirt of the city pose a major health
hazard. Waste collection is faulty. The ubiquitous plastic bags are a menace unto themselves.

That aside, a major risk facing the citizens is the improper disposal of the hospital waste.
There is no discrimination being practiced between the general waste and this hazardous
kind. As most of the hospitals do not have incinerators on their premises, they dump the
infectious, and at times radioactive, and pharmaceutical residue in the open. The Pims
hospital only lately was reported to have installed two incinerators. Earlier, the hospital, like
most others, had to transport its waste to the open landfill sites.

According to an EPA survey, several tons of waste from various hospitals and laboratories was
thrown in the open. A commission constituted by the Islamabad High Court after observing
the awful state of waste collection had proposed certain recommendations which till date
remain unimplemented. There was also a proposal of establishing a centralized waste disposal
facility but that has yet to take place.
An overwhelming number of the total prevalent Hepatitis B cases are the result of the improper
disposal of hospital waste. Diseases such as HIV/AIDS, gastro, infections, blood and skin related
conditions could also be caused by infectious waste.
The EPA has been active in the recent past due to increased awareness among the public and
has been monitoring the waste disposal of these outlets, still a round around the town shall
reveal how ineffective that whole monitoring mechanism is. The EPA, besides ensuring strict
enforcement of its standards, should penalize the non-compliant outlets.