New Delhi: The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) on Tuesday stressed the need to halt the spread of Covid-19 through all possible infection channels, including from contact with or mismanagement of infectious waste.
UNIDO Representative in India Rene Van Berkel also said that this is possible with proven biomedical waste management practices and techniques, and never before has it been so urgent to adopt these.
He was speaking at a webinar on “Managing bio-medical waste to ensure near-zero infections spread among waste management workers” organised by Communeeti, a non-profit organisation working on community-centric policy making, in partnership with the Ramaiah Medical College and supported by UNIDO-India.
UNIDO has been working to develop and implement environmentally sound practices and techniques for medical waste with 160 plus hospitals across the states of Karnataka, Punjab, Odisha, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Since the onset of Covid-19, it has been reported that project interventions have resulted in achieving near-zero Covid-19 infections among waste management workers in project hospitals.
This was done through a multi-faceted approach which included strict segregation and containment of waste supported by instructional videos, professional training, development and roll-out of Covid-19 specific biomedical waste rules, identification and promotion of suppliers of waste management related goods and services.
At the webinar, Temsutula Imsong, the cleanliness warrior of Varanasi, talked about her experience of cleaning the ghats of Varanasi through community participation and how hospitals have to play an important role in efficient handling of bio-medical waste.
The webinar witnessed a panel discussion with experts from the sector, including representatives of the hospitals working under this project and from State Pollution Control Boards.
Biomedical waste is a threat to global public and environmental health. Worldwide, it is estimated that at least 5.2 million people, including 4 million children, die each year because of diseases related to unmanaged medical waste.
Considering the Covid-19 pandemic, the surge in infectious waste from healthcare facilities as well as residential and other sectors has become a new major threat to public health and the environment.
Improper handling of biomedical wastes from hospitals adds to the spread of Covid-19, and hence safe handling and final disposal of this waste is therefore a vital element in an effective emergency response to the pandemic.