According to the Unearthing the Growth Curve and Necessities of Bio-Medical Waste Management in India 2018 study that was released earlier this year, India is on its way to a steady increase of medical waste generation for the foreseeable future.
Currently, the country produces about 551 tonnes of medical waste per day. By 2022, just 4 years away, it’s estimated they will be producing over 775 tonnes of medical waste on a daily basis.
There doesn’t seem to be too much recent data for the United States, but in 2015 the latest research showed that hospitals here at home were generating about 5,500 tonnes of waste on a daily basis, but that only 20% of that is considered biohazardous. That’s a major difference in volume, but we also have a huge population disparity which compounds this stark difference.
India has more than 1.3 billion residents, while the United States has a mere 309 million people, approximately. Clearly the US is producing a much higher per-person volume of medical waste on a daily basis, but our legislation has been extremely proactive over the last few decades to manage this waste safely.
This recent study in India, which was published by Dr. Kirti Bhushan, the Director General of Health Services of the Delhi government, called attention to the concern over the growth of medical waste generation along with a call to action for new legislation.
According to the study, India’s medical waste generation in set to increase at a compounded annual growth rate of about 7%.
With the existing challenges of managing medical waste safely, the growth predictions are a major concern. The study articulated the urgent requirement for stringent monitoring and evaluation framework if India is going to achieve safe and effective management of biohazardous waste.
Upon releasing his study, Dr. Bhushan was quoted saying:
“Safe and effective management of waste is not only a legal necessity but also a social responsibility. Lack of concern, motivation, awareness and cost factors are some of the problems faced in proper biomedical waste management.”
Dr. Bhushan stressed that in India, there is a major need for education regarding the hazards associated with improper waste disposal. He feels that the key challenges to managing biomedical waste in his country include a laundry list of items, including but not limited to:
- Data availability and speed of transmission
- Under-reporting of waste generation
- Handling capacity shortages
- Healthcare facilities operating without proper authorization
- Lack of education and awareness amongst staff at all levels
It’s encouraging to see the Director General of Health Services for the Delhi government recognizing the current gaps, and taking a hard stance on what needs to happen.
Hopefully, this will help to set an example around the globe that this issue isn’t going away. It’s growing, and will continue to grow – which means it becomes the responsibility of the entire planet to manage medical waste properly. If we don’t, everyone is at risk.