93.4 per cent of COVID-19-related health-safety and medical waste remains out of proper treatment while merely 6.6 per cent are managed properly in Bangladesh.
The findings were revealed in a study on “Effective Management of Medical Waste amid COVID-19 Pandemic” conducted by the climate change programme of BRAC.
The results of the study were shared in a webinar held on Monday.
The study result shows that a total 248 tons of medical waste are generated daily from the hospitals and healthcare facilities all around the country. Among these, only 35 tons of waste are under proper management and this management is limited within the capital city Dhaka, says a press release.
Although waste separation facilities are available in the healthcare centres and hospitals in the country there are no medical waste disposal or treatment facilities in place in those establishments, says the press release.
On the other hand, 282.45 tons of medical waste are generated every day from the PPEs used by mass people to protect themselves against COVID-19, all of which are mixed with household waste before disposal.
Speaking at the event as chief guest, local government, rural development and co-operatives minister Tajul Islam said, “The volume of waste went up as the capacity of buying of our people also increased. We have shortcomings in waste management. Lack of prior prioritising, lack of awareness among people, technological shortcomings are among several of reasons behind this. Medical waste has been added to the woe.”
He said a policy is being formulated stipulating all hospitals to burn their waste.
BRAC executive director Asif Saleh said, “The volume of medical waste only in Dhaka for the month of May was 3,000-ton. This proves medical waste is turning to be a hazard for the public and the environment.”
They survey finds out that a total 300 physicians and healthcare workers participated in the survey and only 43.6 per cent of them are aware of the ‘Medical Waste Management Policy 2008’. 84 per cent of the healthcare workers think that existing medical waste management is very fragile. 90.3 per cent of them believe that an integrated and participatory planning and its proper implementation is necessary.
The experts who participated in the study think that there were guidelines and a public notice on COVID-19-related household and healthcare waste management from Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and Department of Environment (DoE) but it was not implemented properly.
Chairperson of BRAC Hossain Zillur Rahman said, “Turning public awareness into a habit, coordinated effort of all stakeholders, achieving waste management capabilities, fixing a sustainable solution to the existing problem--- these four aspects are crucial to tackle the crisis. There should be a specific division in terms of who is doing what and the ministries of health, environment and local government should work together to this end.”
Director general of DoE AKM Rafique Ahammed , chief waste management officer of Dhaka South City Corporation air commodore Md Badrul Amin, among others, spoke at the webinar.
A total of 5,000 participants took part on the survey conducted from 20 July to 10 August.