Medical waste has been a growing concern because of recent awareness in public regarding HIV, AIDS and Hepatitis B and exposure to discarded needles, syringes and other medical waste from municipal garbage bins and disposable sites. At the garbage dump sites there are several rag pickers trying to salvage any discarded material to sell and make a living. These rag pickers are exposed to the risk of injuries from contaminated needles and other sharp objects. Improper practice of hospital medical waste disposal affects not only medical people who come in contact with waste but Para-medical staff, labour staff, rag pickers and citizen at a large. Illness spreads due to improper medical waste management practice.
Ministry of Environment and forests, Government of India has laid down guidelines for handling of Bio-Medical Waste (management and handling) Rules 1998.
Steps in management of hospital waste
1) Segregation - Different categories of waste are sorted and placed in different containers and bags. Segregation should be done, as early as possible at the source itself.
2) Disinfection - Infectious hospital waste should be disinfected before it is disposed off. It is the process of destruction or removal of pathogen which gives rise to infection.
3) Storage - Medical waste requires to be stored on site until it is collected for transport to the site of ultimate disposal. Storage containers such as plastic bags (yellow, red, white, black), puncture proof containers are used to store medical waste.
4) Treatment and Disposal - Treatment renders waste, unrecognizable and may reduce its volume .It also makes it less hazardous