The illicit disposal of untreated clinical wastes from hospitals and clinics by insecure landfil or direct sale to scavengers and others involved in the recycling and recovery of items for re-use that re-enter the hospital ‘as new’ puts many patients at risk of severe and life-threatening infection.

This illicit trade is common in many countries. Often seen in regions where the lack of resources results in untreated wastes dumped in open landfill populated by scavengers, it occurs in more organised form where, as above, wastes are first sold to those who repackage but do not re-sterilise wastes for sale back to hospitals. Often, the same individuals are involved – surely knowingly – in the outgoing and incoming trade. The risks are obviously and the effect on public health can be devastating and widespread. Additional information on this illicit trade can be found in the Clinical Waste Discussion Forum archives.

It is good news indeed to read of the suspension of hospital staff over the sale of waste from Shalimar Hospital in Lahore, Pakistan. With something of a shaky track record over disposal issues, including the disposal of radioactive wastes from hospitals the region does have an incinerator, at Shalimar Hospital. However, it seems that some wastes were going straight out of the back door by or from a separate waste management company operating from the hospital site. Apparently, up to 10 people were caught ‘red handed’.

Maybe this sort of operation will help stamp out the illicit salvage and re-use of items from hospital wastes, though in all probability it will barely scratch the surface of a problem driven by a mixture of poverty and greed.

1 Comment

  1. As so often happens, dealing with one serious problem creates other consequential problems. It’s never easy, is it.

    The Shalimar Hospital incinerator facility has been closed and sealed while investigations of this illicit salvage of clinical wastes intended for disposal by incineration is completed. It is reported that the incinerator facility is to remain closed for at leats one more week. In the meantime, clinical (medical) waste from 160 hospitals and laboratories amounting to an estimated 9 toones per day is piling up!


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