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Sansad TV: Biomedical Waste Management Rules Across Country

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Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016

  • Definition: Biomedical waste is defined as human and animal anatomical waste, treatment apparatus like needles, syringes and other materials used in health care facilities in the process of treatment and research.
    • Objective: The objective of the rules is to properly manage the per day bio-medical waste from Healthcare Facilities (HCFs) across the country.
  • Ambit: The ambit of the rules has been expanded to include vaccination camps, blood donation camps, surgical camps or any other healthcare activity.
  • Phase Out: Chlorinated plastic bags, gloves and blood bags has been phased out within two years starting from March 2016.
  • Pre-treatment: Pre-treatment of the laboratory waste, microbiological waste, blood samples and blood bags through disinfection or sterilisation on-site in the manner prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO) or by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).
  • Categorisation: Bio-medical waste has been classified into 4 categories instead of the earlier 10 categories to improve the segregation of waste at source.
  • Stringent Standards for Pollutants: The rules prescribe more stringent standards for incinerators to reduce the emission of pollutants in the environment.
  • Role of State Government: The State Government provides the land for setting up common bio-medical waste treatment and disposal facility

Issues related to biomedical waste generation

  • Health risk: This waste has created new biomedical waste crisis and posing a health risk to sanitation workers and garbage collectors. E.g. Over 40 sanitation workers had tested positive for COVID-19 and 15 have lost their lives in Delhi.
  • Lack of segregation: Municipalities pick up COVID-19 biomedical waste from houses, but it often has other household waste mixed in it. This decreases the efficiency of the incinerators at waste treatment plants as it results in greater emissions and unburnt ash.
  • Large volume of waste generated: Before the COVID-19 outbreak, there was 500 grams of biomedical waste per bed daily. Now, it is between 2.5kg to 4kg per bed and a large COVID-19 facility can generate 1800 to 2200 kg of biomedical waste per day.
  • Overburdened disposal Capacity: PPE are being used everywhere, from hotels to hospitals, railway stations to airports, crematoriums to burial grounds so, the disposal mechanisms available in the cities are not equipped to deal with this huge volume.
  • Investment in incinerators is also a problem, as this infection (COVID-19) is episodic, the machines may not be useful once cases start decreasing.

Key guidelines for Covid-19 biomedical waste management

  • Procedure of Disposal: The biomedical waste must be segregated in coloured bags (Yellow, Red, White and Blue) according to the category of the waste. It can be stored up till 48hrs after which it is either needed to be treated at insitu site or collected by the worker from CBMWTF.
  • Collection and segregation of waste: Use dedicated trolleys and collection bins in COVID-19 isolation wards and label “COVID-19 Waste” to be pasted on these items.
    • Depute dedicated sanitation workers separately for biomedical waste and general solid waste so that waste can be collected and transferred timely to temporary waste storage area.
  • Transportation and disposal of waste: COVID-19 garbage is collected and taken in a separate vehicle for proper disposal as biomedical waste either to a CBWTF or a waste-to-energy plant, where it is then either incinerated, autoclaved (sterilised for shredding and recycling) or burnt to produce energy.
  • Quantification and tracking the movement of COVID-19 waste needed to be carried out by all quarantine centres though the CPCB’s biomedical waste tracking mobile application called COVID19BWM.
  • Role of nodal authorities – Designated trained nodal officers for biomedical waste management in hospitals must be made responsible for training waste handlers about infection prevention measures.
  • Record maintenance and monitoring: Maintain and update bio-medical waste management register and record for operation of incineration, hydro or autoclaving etc, also review and monitor the activities related to biomedical waste management through committee.
  • Establish GPS and Bar-coding facility at Common biomedical waste treatment facility.

Conclusion

  • The Centre should incentivise start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) offering solutions for Covid-19 waste segregation and treatment.
  • There should be constant and regular monitoring by the central and state PCBs, Health Departments in the states/UTs and by the high-level task team at Central level with further coordination by CPCB.