Hyderabad: For a state-run healthcare centre that’s one of Telangana’s few major healthcare centres, Gandhi Hospital’s waste management system is currently in a pathetic situation, and might even be a cause for concern for the local environ. Instead of being properly disposed, it is simply being thrown in its backyard for workers to collect.
Many often point fingers at the sad state of affairs at Osmania General Hospital (OGH), the other major government-run healthcare centre, but Gandhi Hospital is equally if not worse when it comes to infrastructure. For a place that was the nodal centre for COVID-19 cases in Telangana, bio-medical waste there is being simply dumped into a corner, instead of being treated properly.
A sanitation worker working at the hospital, speaking to Siasat.com, explained how the waste collection and disposal system in the hospital worked. “The fourth and sixth floor of the hospital is dedicated to COVID-19 patients currently. I collect waste from the floors in a trolley and dispose of them in the empty yard behind the building,” he said, and requested anonymity.
A worker at Gandhi remarked that the waste has reduced in quantity during the time Gandhi hospital was treating non COVID-19 patients. He added that the inclusion of waste collected from COVID-19 patients poses a problem. The yard filled with waste and the unsanitary condition in which it was disposed of coupled with the presence of COVID-19 waste needs a better solution, he added.
The needles, syringes, personnel protection equipment kits, and other biomedical waste used whilst treating COVID-19 patients are all disposed of in the yard as seen in the photo above.
When questioned about the same, Dr. M. Raja Rao, superintendent of Gandhi Hospital, told Siasat.com “A separate center is dedicated to biomedical waste which is taken care of by medicare workers. The sanitation staff in the hospital is chiefly responsible for the general waste produced in the hospital.”
However, while this reporter tried to check the biomedical waste center at Gandhi Hospital, it was not operational. The photographs taken from the window of the center made it clear that the building was barely functional, at best.
Police personnel posted at the Gandhi, confirming suspicions, maintained that all waste has been disposed of collectively in the area behind the hospital building. “Nobody has used the center since I have been posted here,” he remarked.
The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) workers come and collect the waste from the yard later in the night and dump the same in a lower tank bund area which could prove to be hazardous.
As health care experts have remarked in the past, if biomedical waste at Gandhi Hospital and elsewhere isn’t disposed of with extreme caution, the COVID-19 virus could end up infecting not only the sanitation staff or the GHMC workers but the general public as well.
As Dr. M Raja Rao himself observed, “The second wave hasn’t fully subsided yet and it is incumbent on citizens to follow COVID-19 protocols to safeguard themselves.”
The staff is alleged to have followed the waste segregation diligently for a while. But as things stand, the unused status of the biomedical center plus the collective disposal of all waste is a cause of concern and in direct violation of COVID-19 protocols.