Biomedical wastes: Public health, ecology at stake

Health and hygiene are something which cannot be compromised and public health is one area which any elected Government must take utmost care of. But the way bio-medical wastes and other effluents of JNIMS are being discharged into Kongba River is a matter of grave concern. After RIMS, JNIMS is the biggest hospital cum medical college in the State. If JNIMS does not know how to dispose its medical wastes properly, how other district hospitals, community health centres, public health centres etc dispose their bio-medical wastes is simply unimaginable. For quite sometime, the Government has been preaching for standard sanitation, clean environment and is actively campaigning for development of Imphal city as a smart city. It has been accepted that bio-medical waste or any waste produced in the course of healthcare activities has higher potential of causing infection and/or injury. Effective management and proper disposal of bio-medical waste is not only a legal necessity but also a social responsibility. There are Regulatory Notifications for Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998, under the Environment (Protection Act 1986), Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Govt. of India. By discharging its bio-medical wastes and other effluents into Kongba River either directly or indirectly, JNIMS authority is clearly not complying with these notifications which are said to be mandatory. Though legal provisions exist to mitigate the impact of hazardous and infectious hospital waste on the community, still these provisions are yet to be fully implemented. The absence of proper waste management, lack of awareness about the health hazards from biomedical wastes, insufficient financial and human resources, and poor control of waste disposal are the most critical problems connected with healthcare waste.
The hazardous impact of medical waste on the public and environment is enhanced manifold if adequate and appropriate handling of these wastes is not adopted. The hospital waste management has diverse ramifications as it not only affects the health of patients but also of healthcare workers (doctors, nurses, sanitary staff, etc.) and general public. Although, there is an increased global awareness among health professionals about the hazards and also appropriate management techniques but the level of awareness in India, particularly Manipur is found to be unsatisfactory. But this cannot be any valid alibi for JNIMS to discharge its effluents into Kongba River. The matter is a serious one in the sense that it involves the question of public health, environment and the ecology of a river. Like the JNIMS authority, the State Government too is answerable for discharging bio-medical waste into the river. After all, JNIMS is an institute which functions under the State Government. It cannot shirk its responsibility. There are numerous cases of lawmakers breaking laws but violating laws or regulations related to public health would be disastrous. The Government cannot simply go on chastising citizens for polluting environment, particularly rivers in Imphal and greater Imphal areas when its own agencies have been acting without any sense of responsibility. This does not mean defiant and irresponsible citizens should not be taken to task. The Government, its agencies and citizens need to walk hand in hand in any public issue including the issues of public health, sanitation and environment. The Government and its agencies should lead the way. If the State Government was preaching for clean environment and campaigning for smart city, it must have known how medical wastes generated by hospitals in the State were disposed. Or is it a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing? Discharging biomedical waste into river is nothing but toxification of the river.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.