Col (Dr) Sanjay Kaushal

Regulations & waste management methodologies for hospitals

The old saying ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ holds true much more today than ever. The sense of this saying has been amply demonstrated by our ancestors as seen from the excavations of Dravidian civilization of Mohenjadoro and Harrappa in 5000 BC, who emphasized on safe and excellent systems of disposal of sewage to prevent disease.

Waste generation is an inherent feature of modern society. The quantity of waste generated has increased exponentially with the improving quality of life, industrialization and urbanization thus putting a strain on the environment.

Over the years hospital services have transformed from that of terminal care provider to social
institute providing preventive, promotive and curative care, and also a centre of education, research and training. The quantum of waste produced has also increased exponentially with the extensive use of disposables in all spheres of healthcare, to reduce infections. With the intent of renewing our degrading environment, safe disposal of hospital waste is of paramount importance and needs to be a part of the integrated waste disposal policy.

In India however, this aspects was not really looked into till recently. The vigilant media highlighting the poor rag pickers sifting thru untreated hospital waste in order to take out a marginal living has brought about awareness to do more than just lip service to this aspect of medical care.

This is due to the fact that waste disposal is considered a menial job best left to the lower strata of workers. The apathy of the medical fraternity needs to be tackled at the outset with proper awareness and training of all categories of medical personnel.

(Dr Kaushal is the commanding officer (managing director) of Military Hospital, Gangtok, Sikkim)