Tuesday February 27, 2024

KP govt fails to dispose of infectious medical waste

October 06, 2022

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has failed to implement the infectious medical waste disposal project and as a result bureaucratic hurdles have put people’s lives at risk. The PC-1 of the safe disposal of hospital waste was approved two years ago and the tender was opened on 14th April 2022, but KP Health Foundation could not decide on a contract for the waste disposal project.

The Chairman of KP Health Foundation, Dr Amanullah, told this correspondent that the foundation was aggressively and positively following the project. “The project was delayed due to some technical issues in the PC-1. Almost 99% of formalities have been completed by the foundation.

Hopefully, the project will be initiated soon,” he assured. According to documents available with this scribe, the KP Health Foundation advertised for outsourcing hospital infectious waste management services on March 1, 2022, to ensure safe collection, storage, transportation, and disposal of infectious hospital waste in healthcare facilities.

The selected entity was to carry out the operation and management of hospital infectious waste in all districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as per HWM Rules 2005. KP Health Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra played an essential role in PC-1 approval on 26 November 2020. The unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles over the approved PC-1 took about two years in issuing tenders, even though the PC-1 was approved for four years.

The submission date of tenders was fixed as June 20, 2022, and the technical evaluation was completed on July 2022. The financial bids were opened on July 2, 2022. KP is generating approximately 244,419 kg of infectious medical waste every month and only 42,270 kg is incinerated while the remaining 202,149 kg is either dumped in landfill sites or the natural water streams and sometimes burnt in the open. Thus, 83% of infectious waste is not disposed of safely while only 17% is incinerated properly.

Sources of the health department told this correspondent that substandard incinerators at KP hospitals have exposed the lives of millions of citizens to infectious diseases due to improper burning and transportation. Most of the substandard and low-quality incinerators are non-functional or operating without any NOC from the KP Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The sources confirmed that hospital infectious waste is being stolen daily and this waste is being sold to scavengers. The waste is reused in the industry for the manufacturing of plastic toys, baby feeders, and other plastic products including disposable spoons and cups, etc. Deadly infectious diseases including HIV, AIDs, hepatitis, and other respiratory diseases are being caused due to inappropriate transportation of waste via open vehicles from one place to the other in the open air.