Health Care Waste Management

Promoting sustainable waste management in healthcare

Healthcare waste is complex and expensive to manage. According to WHO, about 75% to 90% of the total waste produced during healthcare activities is non – risk waste which is similar to the domestic waste; such wastes come from administrative and housekeeping departments of healthcare facilities. The remaining 10-25% of healthcare waste is hazardous that may be potentially harmful for environment and health; medical waste incineration is a leading source of dioxin, mercury, lead, and other dangerous pollutants.

The management of biomedical waste includes characterization, quantification, segregation, storage, transport, and its treatment. To ensure safe treatment and disposal of biomedical waste, countries came up with regulations. India has Bio-Medical Waste Management (BMWM) regulations since 1998 with subsequent amendments in 2000, 2003 and 2011. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change notified Bio-medical waste management rules in 2016 (amended in 2018 & 2019) according to which healthcare facilities are required to segregate their bio-medical waste into four colour coded categories – yellow, red, white, and blue – at its point of generation. All segregated waste is to be collected by an authorised collector or Common Bio-medical Waste Treatment Facility operator for the final treatment and disposal. Certain waste items from yellow and red category must be treated and disinfected before handing over to the authorised collector; these items include blood bags and microbiological waste.

H.E.L.P is working with its members to research and promote environmentally sound and healthy alternatives to medical waste management, to raise awareness about the hazards of bio-medical waste among healthcare workers, to train staff of member hospitals on bio-medical waste management rules, to help hospitals reduce the amount and toxicity of waste by making smarter purchase decisions and to build institutional capacities for developing a waste disposal system from point of origin to the disposal facility.