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गृहपृष्ठEnglishHealthcare Waste – Risky?

Healthcare Waste – Risky?

No doubt healthcare waste is risky to human health and the environment. It is noted, healthcare waste is the second most dangerous waste after radiation waste. But unfortunately, not every individual and even hospital waste handler perceives it risky. This argument is backed up by a study finding conducted in Kathmandu, Nepal few years back.

Healthcare waste, as classified by the World Health Organization (WHO), comprise of general/non-hazardous waste (85%) and hazardous waste (15%). Despite hazardous waste contributes a lower percentage than general waste, if improperly managed, it has several negative health and environmental consequences. The transmission of infections such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV are some evidence of contaminated syringe and needles when mismanaged. Disease symptoms like fever, headache, dizziness, itching, burning sensation in eyes, skin rash, cough, and accidental injuries from sharps are reported by the general public in various studies. Additionally, complaints of difficulty breathing due to burning healthcare waste, foul smell from the hospital, children’s exposure to dumping sites with discarded syringes and needles have also been reported.

Along with treating sick people and reducing health problems, health care organizations are inescapably generating waste that is unsafe for us. Carelessly, many hospitals are dumping waste on the backyard, rivers, open field, corners of hospital buildings, or anywhere around the premises.

Kathmandu, a densely populated city of Nepal, has a large number of tertiary treatment facilities. The expansion of health care facilities across the nation has led to major challenges in managing healthcare waste. It’s extremely surprising to mention that even if healthcare wastes are segregated within hospital premises, are aggregated when disposed off. So, what is the meaning of waste segregation if it is mixed when disposed off? Unknowingly, due to close contact with these infected healthcare waste, health care workers and waste handlers suffer the most.

Howbeit, when considerable attention has been given over the past few years, healthcare waste management is still neglected by concerned authorities in Nepal. The Government of Nepal has also developed guidelines to manage healthcare waste, but, compliance with healthcare waste management has not been consistent with Nepal’s recommended guidelines for most health care institutions. Efforts specifically designed to focus on R’s – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Refine, Recycle, and Recover contributes to zero waste production from healthcare facilities, which could be potentially harmless or non-threatening to human health and surroundings. Thereby, let’s attempt to make healthcare waste non-risky through proper treatment and management.

(Sulata is a public health professional, currently working as a researcher at Dhulikhel Hospital Kathmandu University Hospital, Nepal.)

क्याटेगोरी : English

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