Three hostels, entire neighbourhood in G-8 face serious health risk


Infectious waste dumped in the open at PIMS

Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad—Because of the poor handling of the infectious waste, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) is posing serious health risk to not only its residents (nurses, paramedics and doctors) but also to hundreds of families in its neighborhood.
The hospital is dumping its medical garbage in the open and one can see a large number of used urine bags, syringes, blood bags, gauze, chemicals, blood stained cotton and dressings—almost all types of disposable items used in the operation theatre—lying in the vast open area adjacent to the hostel of the College of Medical Technology (CMT). Interestingly, nearby there is a hostel for post graduate doctors too called PG Hostel and a hostel for nurses as well but the providers of healthcare themselves are at serious health risk because of the dumping of dangerous waste near their buildings.
Fortnightly, these wastes are set afire by the efficient staff of the PIMS and the garbage keeps burning for days. Residents living along the Ravi Road which is adjacent to the dumping site have lodged a number of complaints with the PIMS ED and the directors but to no avail. PIMS admin brazenly is keeping this practice for years, says Farid a resident of the nearby colony. Whenever they put the infectious waste to fire we are forced to either lock our windows and doors or leave the entire locality so that smoke pillowing out of these burning syringes may not reach our kids, he said.
PIMS is the premiere healthcare provider in the country but for disposal of hospital waste, it is still relying on age-old methods of burning the garbage which is not only a prohibited practice across the world it is also a major source of pollution and causes a number respiratory diseases. PIMS lacks in scientific methods of infectious waste disposal. There is no incarcerator of its own and surprisingly the CADD Ministry as well as the Mayor office and those in power have not given a thought to having its own incarcerator.
A staff member of the CMT told Pakistan Observer that the foul smell and stink produced by the garbage dump is unbearable. Residents of the G-8/3 are also wary of such a bitter smell and keep their doors shut. “My children are deprived of fresh air and sunlight as we don’t open our windows which face the PIMS boundary wall where garbage is collected in huge volume,” said Rabab, a housewife in the neighbourhood.
In April this year, the Environment Protection Tribunal had summoned PIMS on a complaint filed by the Pakistan-Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) regarding dumping of solid and hospital waste in an unsystematic manner. The tribunal had directed Pak-EPA to visit the hospital and present a detailed report on hospital waste disposal. The team visited different units of Pims including the burn centre, MCH, emergency, and operation theatres and later submitted a report according to which the hospital is without an incinerator. There is no proper disposal of infectious waste. The team also reported that a garbage container placed by the CDA was full and had not been collected from.
It was also reported that operation theatres were in poor shape and infectious waste was being disposed of in sewage lines. International donors have also been asking the government to implement safe methods of medical waste disposal but lack of proper equipment has put limitations on hospitals. An official of the CADD when asked to comment on the persistent situation said a summary has been moved to the CADD Ministry for provision of funds to get an incarcerator. As soon as we get the funds we shall ensure hospital garbage is not thrown in the open, he said.