Science has developed fast, hasn’t it? The advancement in technology has influenced a lot of us, with its positive and negative impacts, as per their use. One of the beneficial effects of this advancement has been the huge improvement in the field of healthcare facilities. The hospitals are becoming more and more advanced, the machines improving and the medicines are becoming more and more effective. No doubt, there has been significant improvement in the health services.
But the hospitals which take care of our health, why do they forget to take care of the environment? Why does the management of the large and highly advanced hospitals forget to take adequate measures to manage the bio-medical waste of the hospital? There are billions spent on the hospitals and their machines, but none to the disposal of the waste that is produced during the services.
It is a matter of serious concern for the environment because the hazardous waste is posing an enormous risk for not only human health, but other species of life as well. The first problem this waste causes is that of pollution; let it be air, land or water. The harmful chemicals are highly responsible to change the structure of the soil. These chemicals enter into the food chain and cause tremendous health problems. The production of about 2.4 million tons of waste each year by medical care is emerging as a big threat to the environment.
This waste is much more harmful than the routine trash from households or industries, because of its chemical nature. Though these are said not to be very dangerous, but the waste must be properly discarded for safety.
The practice of incineration of medical waste, i.e. burning of this waste, has been adopted by many hospitals. But this results in emission of gases, harmful for both flora and fauna. The consumption of the released mercury by fish causes their death in large numbers, as well as threatens the predators of fish.
Found in all the three states of matter, this medical waste is cause of many harmful diseases like hepatitis, HIV, AIDS and tuberculosis. The used syringes have the potential to spread disease to a healthy person and thus act as a carrier of the disease. Along with this, there are other materials like blood samples, chemicals, medical devices and radioactive substances which are very harmful to the health of the human beings.
The workers in the hospital get exposed to these waste materials, and the lack of knowledge of how to properly and safely discard it lands them in trouble.
There have been various instances where his medical waste has turned out to be a huge disaster, for the health of human beings as well as for the flora and fauna of that area. Its potential to cause harm to the environment has not been taken seriously by the authorities yet.
Talking about the solutions, there might be different solutions applicable in different conditions.
1) Recycling– Recycling of this waste appears like a good method, as it will save resources while at the same time, will decrease the production of medical waste. But using recycled materials might not be considered one of the healthiest methods of treatment. Moreover, the sharp objects should not be recycled.
2) Autoclaving- The term autoclaving refers to the use of high temperature and pressure to disinfect these waste materials, after which they can be dumped. This will decrease the toxicity of the materials, but will result in large amount of land fills.
3) Alternative tools- There are many tools which are less toxic, like a thermometer without mercury, which can be brought into use, taking into consideration the harmful effects of the traditional harmful chemical tools.
In the field of health care services, the green hospitals in various parts of the world have set up a wonderful example for the rest of the industry to follow. There surely are many ways in which the waste is being disposed in these green hospitals, which can be replicated through the other hospitals all around the world. It is saddening that the hospitals are responsible for causing this harm to the health of the environment as well as living beings. This matter requires concern and care from the top authorities of the government and private healthcare institutions, as the process of following green living.
The need is to bring a change in our life style, which can be done by bringing a change in our priorities, which can be done by changing our mentality, by changing our attitude towards nature, whether it is in our home or our hospitals. Stay Green, Stay Healthy.