Period of Intervention: June 2017- September 2017
Partners: Recity Network Private Limited
Biomedical waste management has emerged as an issue of major concern not only to hospitals, authorities concerned but also to the environment. Bio-medical waste is any waste, which is generated during the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings or animals or research activities pertaining thereto or in the production or testing of biological or in health camps. The proper management of biomedical waste has become a worldwide humanitarian topic today. All individuals exposed to hazardous healthcare waste are potentially at risk. The problems arise due to the improper segregation and mixing of hospital waste with the municipal waste.
From more than two decades, Toxics Link has been actively working to improve compliance of bio- medical waste management in the country. We have been engaging with all stakeholders (health service providers, healthcare seekers, regulatory authorities, etc) and undertaking policy advocacy initiatives. Toxics Link has also played its part in training healthcare professionals regarding medical waste management and the implementation of management systems in hospitals and other medical institutions in the country. In continuation to its effort, in mid 2017, we started to work on biomedical waste management in Ambala as a part of “OYE! Ambala” awareness campaign. Municipal Corporation of Ambala launched this campaign for strengthening the Municipal Solid Waste & Bio-medical waste management system. Recity Network Pvt. Ltd implemented the program and the Bio Medical Waste Management vertical was managed by Toxics Link.
The city of Ambala has over 350 hospitals both government and private. This accounts for a huge pile of biomedical waste generation. And if this waste is not managed properly, it can open a window to plethora of diseases. While conducting the baseline survey in Ambala, we were able to visualize the gaps in the biomedical waste management that existed at various levels. Doctors and nurses who deal with the waste on regular basis were found to be ignorant about the gravity of the issue. Unavailability of infrastructure and strategy for implementing the system was also present to add to the misery of the situation. It was very distressful to know from the sanitation staff that they were not even aware about the personal protective equipments leave alone the biomedical waste and its management.
To address these issues, Toxics Link conducted 11 sessions reaching out to nearly 250 healthcare professionals who included doctors, nurses and sanitation staff members to build their capacity on the issues of bio-medical waste management. Changing the mindset of the people and making them understand the importance of biomedical waste was a tedious task. Nevertheless receptive minds of healthcare fraternity and support from the Municipality made the task easier. The people got so motivated that they started acquiring the infrastructure required for effective BMW management on their own. This wave of motivation transcended across all the cadres of healthcare fraternity equally.
With guidance from Toxics Link Team, hospitals in Ambala were not only able to implement but demonstrated the model practices in biomedical waste management. 484 staff members were trained and they were able to bring about 60% segregation at source in just 3 months time .Even the class 4 workers started wearing gloves and masks .A few hospitals went a step further and could come up with innovative methods like a smaller waste transportation trolley (that can be taken to different wards easily) and innovative tray (for better collection) for better compliance and to make the task easier. This kind of enthusiasm was not only seen in hospital staff but CBWTF staff as well. They reported that they have started receiving well segregated waste from hospitals and that the records are also maintained properly.
By the end of the project, the phenomenal changes that were observed in the bio-medical waste management in the city of Ambala set an example that with proper motivation, infrastructural support and technical guidance the menace of the biomedical waste mismanagement can surely be curbed down. With the support of the municipality and motivated healthcare fraternity of Ambala, Toxics Link managed to bring the transition in BMW management scenario in Ambala in just 3 months. It would be interesting to the see the same model being replicated in other cities as well. The point worth pondering is that, if a small city like Ambala can be so forthcoming for managing its biomedical waste properly, why can’t others?