Waste management, these days, has become essential but difficult at the same time. All kinds of wastes including e-waste, hospital and medical wastes are in a shambles. These are putting public health in jeopardy and environment in peril.
So much wastes are ending up without proper management all over the country that this rings alarm bell for environment and ecology. Dumping of medical wastes has become one of the worst dangers nowadays. Mounts of medical wastes like used syringes, bandage, dressings, saline bags and many more are heaped, making an awful sight. Spillovers of wastes from trash cans are often littered here and there. Such wastes emit offensive odour hurting the olfactory organs. Blood from used bandages mixed with stagnant rainwater in pothole, at times, cause obnoxious scene and odour.
Sometimes cleaners working at hospitals dump infectious medical wastes callously into containers contaminating the environment. Those cleaners have been doing this for long, ignoring health hazards. A syndicate of hospital employees, it is alleged, directs them to throw garbage into the containers. The rag-pickers collect recyclable things such as syringe and saline bags from the wastes kept open for longer hours. The syndicate members are allegedly paid by rag-pickers who sell the items to scrap dealers. And they again sell those without sterilisation to the hospitals. Instead of handling such infectious waste carefully, these cleaners seem rather to be indifferent leaving people's health and environment in danger.
As far as medical wastes are concerned, it exposes the poor garbage management by the country's hospitals and clinics. We need to be on our guard. The germs can travel through air and can affect human health. They may spread contagious diseases like Hepatitis-B and C, tuberculosis, dengue and malaria. Infected syringes and scalpels may cause HIV/AIDS. Therefore, such medical wastes need to be handled with extreme caution and utmost care.
On the other side of the picture, as it is learnt, around 80 million mobile sets enter the country every year. These turn into wastes within a short span of time. Mobile phone means communication boom that has impacted the economy, expansion of trade, commerce and business positively. But at one point, such mobile sets become outdated and useless and are therefore discarded. These old phone sets and computers, carry a variety of metals like mercury, cadmium and lead. These metals, if not disposed properly, severely pollute the environment.
Under the circumstances, framing of an e- management policy has become indispensable. Kiosks can be set up at all major super markets across the country to buy back e-waste for a price. To make other devices, many parts of old phones can be cannibalised. Mobile phone users also should be aware about constitutes of e-waste. This is because a sense of responsibility needs to be developed among them, so that waste management concept regarding all types of wastes is implanted in all of us.
Sarwar Md. Saifullah Khaled is a retired Professor of Economics and Vice Principal at Cumilla Women's Government College, Cumilla.