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National

June 14, 2018

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No more outsourcing: PIMS gets waste incinerator, another to follow

Islamabad: Outsourcing of waste disposal may be inevitable until now but the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences will soon begin destroying its infectious waste by itself as it’s got a modern, imported incinerator and will get another in few months.

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Currently, this largest government hospital of the federal capital has contracted out the collection and incineration of its infectious waste to the Rawalpindi-based and Attock Refinery Limited-owned National Cleaner Production Centre, while the non-infectious waste is disposed of by the city’s civic agency, CDA.

The NCPC charges it Rs80 per kg for the service with the amount totalling more than Rs10 million annually. nsiders suspect a lack of honesty on part of the staff members tasked with overseeing the weighing of waste to be given to the NCPC.

They however insist not only will the installation of incinerator on the premises will save the hospital lots of funds but it will check that corrupt practice as well. On average, PIMS generates two kilogrammes waste per bed and 8-10 per cent of it is infectious and therefore, the infectious waste produced by the 1100-bedded facility daily weighs around 200kg.

The infectious waste, which includes blood, blood products, body parts, swabs, tissues, lab cultures, surgical gloves, needles, scalpels, cultures and excreta, makes up around 10 per cent of the hospital’s waste, which comprises liquids, paper, plastics, and other trash.

The PIMS used to incinerate medical waste by itself more than a decade ago in four small brick kilns put up on the premises but the gradual decay of those clay furnaces caused the complete end to the activity by 2006.

It later planned to install a modern incinerator and even got the mandatory no objection certificate from the Pak-EPA, regulator on environmental matters in Islamabad, about it in 2009 but the red tape threw a spanner in the works.

According to an insider, as Supreme Court Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar supervises the affairs of Islamabad’s hospitals through regular visits, the PIMS management formally looked to him lately for help in the early procurement of two incinerators. Instantly came the CJ’s intervention, which made the federal government transfer the requisite funds to the Punjab government’s bank account for the import of incinerators for PIMS in addition to 28 needed by its own hospitals. However, the delivery of these furnaces was hampered by a delay in the opening of letter of credit for the purpose due to an anomaly over funds transfer.

PIMS Executive Director Dr Raja Amjad Mehmood then contacted Punjab Chief Secretary Zahid Saeed with a request for the supply of an incinerator imported for the provincial government but stuck at the Karachi port as the place for its installation wasn’t ready.

The chief secretary, a former Rawalpindi commissioner, was quick to ask the supplier to send that incinerator to PIMS instantly and give the one ordered for it to the provincial government. Now, the modern incinerator has reached Islamabad’s premier hospital.

With a capacity to burn 80-100kg waste in an hour, it needs a proper building for installation, which is likely to be in place within two months. A similar incinerator will reach the hospital in the next three months. When contacted, PIMS ED Dr Raja Amjad Mehmood confirmed the delivery of incinerator and said the hospital would soon resume burning its medical waste by itself after a gap of 12 years.

He said the supplier was bound by contract to ensure the incinerator’s operation and maintenance for three years. The ED said the installation of two incinerators would prevent halt to waste incineration.

“Even if one (incinerator) goes out of order, the other will continue burning waste and thus, ruling out the possibility of the suspension of waste incineration,” he said. Dr Raja Amjad said the hospital had the Pak-EPA NOC for the installation and operation.

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