We are alarmed at the way untreated medical waste is still being dumped at the landfills of all the city corporation areas, posing a serious threat to public health. The Daily Star ran a series of reports on the deplorable condition of medical waste management in our divisional cities in the last one year to raise awareness about the issue and draw the attention of the government agencies concerned, but to no avail. According to our reports, the situation is pretty much the same in all the seven cities—Chattogram, Rajshahi, Barishal, Khulna, Rangpur, Sylhet and Mymensingh—due to authorities’ failure to check the malpractice and lack of necessary government arrangement to dispose of the waste.
Although the divisional cities, excluding the capital, have around 1,380 public and private healthcare establishments that produce over 20 tonnes of medical waste every day, there is hardly any mechanism to treat the waste. On January 26, The Daily Star reported on the situation of clinical waste management in Mymensingh City Corporation. In the city, there are a total of 221 healthcare facilities—public and private, but none of them have any mechanism to incinerate or sterilise the medical waste.
Although according to Medical Waste (Management and Processing) Rules 2008, all the healthcare centres must have mechanisms to incinerate or sterilise medical waste, many of the hospital authorities have opined that it is not feasible for them to set up such plants in their premises. There were also suggestions to reform the relevant law in order to make it implementable. Given the situation, the government agencies concerned, including the health ministry, DoE and DGHS, must sit with all the stakeholders and collectively come up with a plan on how to develop a proper medical waste management system to save public health as well as the environment.
It is, however, good to know that a private organisation in collaboration with Mymensingh City Corporation (MCC) has set up a medical waste disposal unit in the city. Although they only charge the hospitals Tk 2,000-3,000 per month for their service, only 18.63 percent of the healthcare facilities currently avail their service. Similar initiatives were also taken by private organisations in Chattogram and Barishal. What the government should do now is make a proper arrangement with these organisations and encourage all the hospitals, clinics, and diagnostic centres to collaborate with them.