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Thursday Sep 01, 2016

Karachi’s medical waste problem

Karachi’s medical waste problem

KARACHI:  The seventh largest city in the world with a population of over 20 million and the economic hub of Pakistan does not have a proper medical waste disposal system.

According to the Municipal department of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, more than 5,000 medical facilities are running in the metropolis including 20 secondary and tertiary care hospitals, but 98% do not have proper medical waste disposal system.

In the public sector only Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Center (JPMC) has its own incinerator to burn medical waste but it does not comply with the World Health Organisation requirement claimed Waqar Hussain Director of Environment Protection Agency Sindh.

Both the Civil Hospital which is the second largest hospital in the city and the Abbasi Shaeed hospital do not have an incinerator or proper system to divide infections and non infectious waste.

Out of the total amount of waste generated by health-care activities, about 85% is general non hazardous waste.

The remaining 15% is considered hazardous material that may be infectious, toxic or radioactive.

This waste includes injections, swabs, bandages, disposable medical devices, human tissue, organs or fluids, body parts, contaminated animal carcasses, syringes, needles, disposable scalpels, blades, expired, unused and contaminated drugs and vaccines among several other items.

According to the World Health Organisation, the average medical waste per patient on a daily basis is 2 KG.

KMC Senior Director Municipal Services, Masood Alam said they are collecting waste from 400 registered medical facilities and this is being dumped at a landfill site located at Mewa Shah Graveyard where two incinerators are disposing the infectious wastage. Mr Alam added that Rs 50 per KG is charged for the waste disposal. 

Sindh Environment Protection Agency Deputy Director, Mr. Waqar Hussain said after the 18th Amendment SEPA has introduced their own hospital waste management act and so far more than 220 letters have been sent to public and private hospitals administration to comply with the waste management system respectively

This is a problem which is apparent across Sindh as not even a single public sector hospital has the capacity to meet international requirements to dispose medical waste proper, Mr. Hussain added