IMA struggles to deal with biomedical waste in Kerala amid funds crunch

As authorities across the country are battling to deal with Covid-19, the bio-medical waste being generated is also causing major issues. Kerala has treated 21,401kg of Bio-Medical Waste (BMW) generated from hospitals tending to Covid patients since March 19. The Times of India reports this was collected from 63 corona care centres across the state and sent to the IMAGE (Indian Medical Association Goes Eco-friendly) facility in Palakkad.

BMW waste treatment is based on the new protocol of the Central Pollution Control board (CPCB), which has issued very specific rules for Covid waste treatment. A key change involves ensuring separate vehicles to transport the waste from the corona care centers. Officials explain that there are rules on the treatment of red waste which is normally autoclaved at hospitals and is recyclable. Now, this is also treated along with yellow waste and incinerated after autoclaving. The red and yellow waste from the hospitals is initially collected in double-layered plastic bags to ensure that it doesn’t leak and then transferred into sealed barrels at the hospital itself.

“Of the total Covid waste generated, almost 75% comprise personal protection equipment (PPE) kits. We take all necessary precautions to ensure that the waste is transported and treated properly,” Dr Abraham Varghese, state president of Indian Medical Association, told TOI.

Before the latest crisis, hospitals on average generated 50 tonnes of medical waste every day. But since the lockdown, the other medical waste has gone down to 35 tonnes per day. However, IMA authorities say they may not be able to run the unit for long due to lack of funds. An amount of Rs 1.55 crore is due from government hospitals while private hospitals owe Rs 4.37 crore.

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