Introduction: Bio-Medical Waste Management
One thing we all may agree on is the risk that unmanaged biomedical waste poses to the environment and human society. And this got to witness at scale during the recent coronavirus pandemic when one could easily spot surgical masks, face shields, shoe covers, bandages with blood on them, syringes lying discarded openly on the side of roads, alongside hospitals, and even on the parking spaces. Even the major chunk of household waste was nothing but bio-medical waste materials. And, the frequent events of careless handling of bio-medical wastes, such as burning them, only worsened the entire situation further. This not only contributed to the spread of the virus among the general public but also gave birth to hundreds of hazardous diseases and infectious pathogens.
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Considering this, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change introduced the Bio-Medical Waste Management (Amendment Rules) 2018 as an effort on its part to improve compliance and enhance the implementation of environmentally sound management of biomedical waste in India. And, the main aim behind this step was to protect the environment and human health from infectious bio-medical waste. In this article, we will discuss with you all the important aspects of bio-medical waste management in India and the key features of these amendment rules.
Bio-Medical Waste Management
The first question to ask here is, what is bio-medical waste? The waste materials that are generated during the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of people and animals define it. It can be either in liquefied or solidified state. And, the process of collection, transportation, and disposal of it safely and sustainably is referred to as Bio-Medical Waste Management, shortly known as BMWM. The reasons it is considered to be hazardous for the general public and the environment if left unmanaged, are its high infectivity and toxicity.
Read Our Blog: How is Biomedical Waste Disposed?
Types of Bio-Medical Waste
- Pathological and anatomical wastes, such as human tissues, organs, and body parts.
- Animal medical waste that comes out of veterinary hospitals and households
- Microbiology and biotechnology wastes such as wastes coming from laboratory cultures, stocks, specimens of microorganisms, or attenuated vaccines.
- Common medical waste materials include sharps like discarded needles, syringes, scalpels, and glass.
- Medicines that are discarded.
- Discarded medical materials including contaminated dressing, bandages, plaster casts, tubes, etc.
- Liquid bio-medical waste such as infectious patients' blood, secretions, or chemicals.
- Residues of the incineration process.
Significance of Bio-Medical Waste Management
Now, we all know the major reason for the introduction of Bio-Medical Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018 is to contain the development of several health risks with the enforcement of regulations and norms for better handling of bio-medical waste. Even if it weren't legally enforceable, setting up a proper bio-medical waste management system would prove to be nothing but beneficial for the involved parties and people living in the country. Let’s look at the significance of bio-medical waste management.
- Reduce the Risk Factors for Accidental Transmission of Fatal Diseases
Recently, a few cases have been reported where careless mistakes on the part of hospital staff had made innocent people victims of fatal diseases such as HIV/AIDs, sepsis, and hepatitis. What’s worse is that such incidents are not new to witness in the country. All this could have been easily avoided if there were certain measures in place for the disposal of infectious medical equipment. This signifies the urgent need for an efficient bio-medical waste management, and training in hospitals and testing labs on the ways to deal with such infectious waste.
- Works Against Illicit Trade in Used Medical Equipment
You might have heard about the incidents of certain medical facilities using used medical equipment for the treatment of their patients only to reduce costs. If not, then let us tell you this is common in some parts of the country, especially when it comes to the usage of disposed syringes. With biomedical medical waste management, the Indian government has been trying to curb this issue that makes hundreds of innocent patients its victims.
The gravity of this issue reflects the health risks that come from the usage of discarded syringes and needles, which also results in spreading of diseases at times as used biomedical equipment is often contaminated with toxic substances.
- Secures the Health of Hospital Staff
When medical facilities, be it hospitals or test labs, comply with the bio-medical waste management regulations and norms, they are not only securing the lives of their patients from the negative impacts of toxic medical waste but also of their staff as well. Many times people working at such places get injured because of unmanaged medical waste, such as needle sticks, which also sometimes expose them to the risk of getting diseases. But the placement of bio-medical waste management as per the prescribed rules prevents such incidents. Besides this, it also saves them from legal consequences in the form of fines and shutdown.
Key features of Bio-Medical Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018
- Every bio-medical waste generator in the country must discontinue the use of chlorinated plastic bags and gloves (blood bags are an exemption) by the 27th of March, 2019. Hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, animal houses, blood donor centers, and pathological labs are a few major sources of bio-medical waste.
- It shall be mandatory for every healthcare facility (irrespective of its beds) to present a yearly report on its website within the time framework of two years from the publication of these amendment rules.
- A mandatory setup of a barcoding and global positioning system in TSDFs (Treatment and disposal facilities) for managing bio-medical waste as per the guidelines of the Central Pollution Control Board.
- Before the 31st of July of every year, the relevant government authority (SPCBs/Pollution Control Committees) is required to gather, review and analyze prescribed information to the CPCB through a new form (FORM IV A). The prescribed information can include information regarding the district-wise generation of bio-medical waste, information on medical facilities having captive treatment facilities, and information on general bio-medical waste treatment and disposal facilities.
- Every occupier of bio-medical waste generators must pre-treat the laboratory waste, microbiological waste, blood samples, and blood bags through disinfection or sterilization on-site as per the ways given by the World Health Organization (WHO) or guidelines on the safe management of wastes from health care activities and WHO Blue Book 2014. Only after that, the waste is allowed to be sent to the common bio-medical waste treatment unit for end disposal.
The Bio-Medical Waste (Amendment) Rules 2018 are an improvement over their predecessors and can be significant to bring down environmental pollution. Though, It’s true that ensuring proper bio-medical waste management is not as easy as it seems but with the backing of the government’s support and compliance with regulations and norms by the medical facilities and their staff can bring a positive change for sure. It’s people’s basic right to live in a clean and secure environment and with the improved collection, transportation, and disposal of bio-medical waste, relevant parties can surely contribute their parts to it.
This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not corpseed, and have not been evaluated by corpseed for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.
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