It is discouraging to learn that more than 100 hospitals in the country are giving treatment to coronavirus infected patients without following proper rules and regulations concerning dumping of the infectious medical waste.
Bangladesh was already struggling with poor medical waste management before the coronavirus pandemic. Now, it is at risk of being hit hard by a sudden onslaught of single-use medical plastic.
Covid-19 is producing large quantities of hazardous medical waste, with personal protective equipment (PPE) used in hospitals being the main component.
Reportedly, around 250 tonnes of medical waste was generated by hospitals last month, and sanitation workers often lack the protective gear to keep them safe from COVID-19.
More resources and public awareness are urgently
needed to ensure discarded medical waste does
not make the coronavirus pandemic worse
World Health Organization (WHO) standard PPE are one time use—every set of PPE becomes hazardous medical waste after being used for a single time.
Besides PPE, there are other types of hazardous waste like facial tissue, gauze pieces, masks, oxygen masks, test tubes of nasopharyngeal swabs, saline bags, disposable syringes, needles etc that are being used to treat patients.
Experts opine that if medical wastes are not treated properly, germs and virus can enter the food cycle through soil and water. This could lead to catastrophic disasters.
Corona waste is 100 times more contagious than any other medical waste. Hence, it is very risky to leave these wastes here and there or not to treat them properly.
Considering the situation, introducing the most appropriate technology at various COVID-19 designated hospitals to treat the highly contagious medical waste would be pertinent. Reportedly, some hospitals that have a backyard are putting their waste into a ditch and burning it.
It is said that medical waste must be burnt under controlled environments at more than 700 degree Celsius, and the flue gas should be released into the environment after filtering harmful particles.
But since we have not been able to develop our medical waste management systems up to this point, we have to treat our medical wastes very carefully with whatever limited resources we have.
No doubt more resources and public awareness are urgently needed to ensure discarded medical waste does not make the coronavirus pandemic worse.