The effective management of biomedical waste is not just a legal responsibility, but also a social one. For a healthy and clean environment, proper management of waste is mandatory.
It’s exciting for us to see countries from around world adopting safer practices, as environmental hazards can be felt around the globe.
Biomedical waste is any waste created during diagnosis, immunization or treatment of animal or human medical and/or research activities. Recently in India, the biomedical waste rules of 2016 were amended to improve the transportation, segregation and disposal methods, in a bid to reduce environmental pollution.
IMPORTANT CHANGES MADE TO BIOMEDICAL RULES
Generators of biomedical waste: hospitals, healthcare facilities, clinics, animal houses, veterinary institution, blood banks, dispensaries, and clinical establishment have been told to phase out the use of chlorinated plastic bags and gloves come March 27, 2019. This phase-out does not include the use of blood bags.
Annual report: within a space of two years from the day the amended biomedical waste management rules was published, all healthcare providing facilities are to make available on their various website their annual report.
The use of technology: to ensure strict adherence to the rules in accordance with Central Pollution Control Board guidance, everyone who handles the treatment of biomedical waste and the facilities used for disposal shall have to establish a global positioning system and barcoding come March 27, 2019.
Information: any information collected has to be compiled, reviewed and analyzed by the pollution control committees or state pollution control boards, and sent to the central population board. They require information that gives details on biomedical waste generation in each district, information on treatment possessing in health care facilities, information on biomedical waste treatment, and more.
Pre-treatment and disposal: every individual that generates biomedical waste has to pre-test laboratory waste, blood bags, blood samples and microbiological waste through sterilization or disinfection on-site, as prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and then send them to a biomedical waste treatment facility for final disposal.
Scope expansion: the scope of rules now includes various health camps like blood donation camps, vaccination camps, and surgical camps.
IMPORTANCE AND IMPLICATION OF THE CHANGES
Segregation: a principle of biomedical waste is to have segregation done at the source of waste generation, to reduce the confusion created by having a large number of categories. Waste bags are now color-coded with each color linked to a type of waste and specific treatment option.
Infection transmission: the amended rules stipulate the pre-treatment of blood bags and laboratory waste according to WHO and NACO guidelines, to reduce chances of healthcare workers handling waste-transmitting infections.
Environmental pollution: plastic bags and gloves are to be phased out within two years to eliminate dioxins and furan emissions during burning.
Control: with the call for barcode systems and global positioning systems for all containers and bags used in the treatment and disposal of biomedical waste, bags can be tracked and identified during inspection for quality assurance and control.
Recycling: red/blue containers and bags are designated for recycling and will be sent to a recycler that is registered. The implication of this is that recyclers will be kept in control and in the realm of various government agencies to conserve resources and reduce pollution.
Review: the amendment will give rise to improvements in the monitoring system by allowing the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate (MoEF) review healthcare facilities once annually through State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) and state health secretaries.
Although just 10%-25% of biomedical waste is said to be hazardous, they pose a major threat to our physical safety. The risk to healthcare workers who handle, treat and dispose of medical waste is significant and is not localized. When contamination spreads in one area, the entire population is at risk. The steps taken by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and climate change in India is one to be emulated in countries lacking effective biomedical waste management system, as it not only put things into perspective but saves lives.
For more information on Medical Waste and regulatory compliance, visit Enviromerica. We can ensure that you receive the best advice for optimizing your healthcare practice.