Biomedical waste management system fails to take off in Tripura
Poor policy management and mushrooming of pathology labs is hindering safe disposal of biomedical waste in Tripura. Despite being the first Indian state to set up biomedical waste management system from collection to final disposal, even at the Primary Health Centre level, Tripura has failed to regulate the same.
Worried over the trends, Tripura State Pollution Control Board (TSPCB) has asked the government to amend the Tripura Clinical Establishment Act 1976 and Tripura Clinical Establishment Rules 1979. The officials argue that the act does not have provisions to regulate the opening of pathology labs. It also does not specify punishment for not adhering to rules and as a result hazardous biomedical wastes are left untreated, sometimes deposited with solid waste.
Records show that about 1,593 kg of biomedical waste is generated everyday in Tripura including 75 kg from ten private nursing homes and 62 kg from 200 registered pathology labs. But there are about hundred labs that are not complying with the rules. The Biomedical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 1998 make municipal and urban local bodies responsible for providing suitable disposal or incineration sites for the waste generated from healthcare establishments. The state pollution control board is responsible for monitoring the implementation. In case of rural and semi-urban areas, it is the duty of the establishment generating the waste to dispose it.
“Tripura is well-equipped with all modern facilities for biomedical waste management including India’s fourth plasma pyrolysis plant. But somehow, we have failed to deliver expected results,” said Sumanta Chakraborty, Executive Engineer TSPCB and nodal officer for biomedical waste management monitoring.
Chakraborty added that all government hospitals and listed private health clinics and labs were provided with colour containers for segregation of biomedical waste and necessary training was also given to concerned staff and doctors . Yet, the management rate of biomedical waste is only 25 per cent. “There is lack of seriousness in big hospitals and medical colleges,” he added.
S R Debbarma, director health services in Tripura admitted to the failure in managing the waste in hospitals. “It is true we are yet to completely manage the waste in private and government hospitals.”
On the contrary, hospitals and labs instead blamed municipal bodies for failing to manage the waste. “As per the norms, we were provided with containers in five colours with specific disposal options. But municipal waste collectors mix all waste into one. So there is no point in segregating waste,” said Dr P Basak, superintendent, Indira Gandhi Memorial hospital.
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