Theft of hospital waste at rise across Punjab
17,537 kgs of biohazardous waste being produced in Lahore hospitals every day
LAHORE: After failing to implement the Hospital Waste Rules 2014, the Punjab Environment Protection Department (EPD) has now written a letter to other concerned departments, seeking their help to curb the theft of hospital waste from the province, Pakistan Today learnt on Wednesday.
The department has taken this action following a report being published in Pakistan Today, highlighting the theft and business of illegal recycling of the hospital waste.
Experts had been highlighting the improper disposal and recycling of hospital waste and that how it was posing a serious threat to the citizens’ health while causing fatal diseases like HIV Aids, skin infections, asthma and others.
The Punjab government had constituted the Hospital Waste Rules in 2005, but the authorities lacking the concern to combat the issue let the menace persist. Moreover, in 2010 the Punjab government had strictly banned the hospitals to sell the waste to any irrelevant person while directing to send this straight to the incinerators installed in different hospitals in the province, but the authorities remained unsuccessful in controlling the issue. However, in 2014 the Punjab EPD formulated the Hospital Waste Management Rules 2014 while making the plan to keep a check on hazardous waste being generated in all public and private hospitals of the province.
Despite all measures and even after the formulation of new rules, it was observed that the hospital waste could not be disposed of in a proper way while the issue of its theft from the hospitals also could not be controlled.
But in a recent development, the Punjab EPD has written a letter to primary and secondary health (P&SH) secretary, specialised healthcare and medical education (SH&ME) secretary, local government secretary, Punjab healthcare commission chairman and the Inspector General of Punjab, in which they have been asked to play their due role in controlling the misuse of hospital waste.
Addressing the concerned officials, the EPD in the letter has directed them to take the required measures in a bid to control the theft of hospital waste from all public hospitals of the province, and also to take an immediate action against those involved. While the local government secretary has been asked to keep a check on the hospital waste, the healthcare commission chairman has been asked to monitor the waste of all the private hospitals of the province and ensure the waste has been disposed of properly.
The letter also addressing the Punjab IG has asked him to play his due role in preventing the theft of the hospital waste. In this regard, he has been asked to order the police personnel to check the trucks and other luggage carrier vehicles at entry and exit points of the major cities.
An official of the EPD told Pakistan Today that the department’s major function was to constitute the policy that how the hospital waste could be managed. He said this was not a failure of the EPD as it had done its job.
“Recently the EPD confiscated over 14000 kilograms of hospital waste and lodged 36 FIRs against the violators,” he added.
According to official data available with Pakistan Today, currently, 17,537 kilograms of biohazardous waste is being produced on a daily basis at the hospitals located in the provincial capital. Among this waste, at least 10,785 kilograms is produced in 17 teaching hospitals, 340 kilograms in the basic health units and around 6,412 kilograms in private hospitals and healthcare units located in the Lahore.