National Waste Management Conference: Call to develop specialized system to handle 1,100 tons of hospital waste – Pakistan

KARACHI: There is no separate treatment on modern lines of around 1,100 tonnes of waste generated daily by hospitals in Karachi, as the uncontrolled disposal of medical waste creates a serious risk to public health.

This was stated by the Dean of Architecture and Management Sciences at NED University of Engineering and Technology, Professor Dr. Noman Ahmed, in his keynote address at the National Conference on Waste Management. hosted by the National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) here at a local hotel.

Dr Ahmed said municipal workers and city scavengers were prone to deadly infectious diseases as they handled hospital waste on a daily basis without any safety precautions, much like the casual way municipal waste is handled in Karachi. He lamented that there were no controls to prevent scavengers from extracting useful and recyclable materials from hospital waste, as this practice should end to protect public health.

He said hospital waste was quite often mixed with regular municipal waste generated in the city instead of being disposed of in a safe manner.

He said the government should provide maximum resources and support to develop an effective hospital waste disposal system, as unsafe practices in this regard had seriously compromised public health during the coronavirus pandemic.

Zubair Ahmed Channa, Managing Director of Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB), told the audience that a very random system was presented before the establishment of SSWMB in 2014 for the disposal of 11,000 tonnes of municipal waste generated daily in Karachi.

He said that the private contractors and scavengers who collected waste from different parts of the city before the establishment of the SSWMB did not ensure that the waste collected by them would eventually reach the two proper landfills in Karachi, as instead, waste was dumped on various landfills near residential localities.

He said that before the SSWMB set up its own waste collection system, different agencies in Karachi, including the cantonments, did not ensure that the waste collected by them reached the two landfills for proper disposal.

He said the SSWMB has ensured that up to 9,000 tonnes of waste generated daily in Karachi reaches the landfills as just a year ago only 3,000 tonnes of waste reached these sites for safe disposal.

Wasif Ijlal, CEO of TransKarachi, said the Red Line BRTS project being built in Karachi from Malir Halt to Numaish would generate minimal carbon emissions as it would run on biogas which would be generated by consuming manure available in the cattle colony of Karachi.

He said the Red Line BRTS would become operational within the next three years as it would solve the problem of safely disposing of excreta produced in the bovine colony that are otherwise unsafely discharged into the sea.

NFEH Chairman Naeem Qureshi said his non-governmental organization hosted the conference to find a sustainable solution to municipal and hazardous waste generated in Karachi to safeguard the health of its citizens.

In his closing remarks, Sindh Local Government Minister, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah assured the audience that in the coming weeks, SSWMB proper waste collection system will be rolled out to all districts of Karachi for collection and daily garbage disposal.

He said as a next step, SSWMB would roll out its waste disposal system to other major cities in Sindh after solving the waste problem in Karachi.

He said that the Sindh government has the utmost determination to make Karachi a clean, green and fully developed city and to this end, its road and civic infrastructure will be rebuilt and overhauled as soon as the monsoon rains end.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

Michael P. Boser