Where does the hospital waste go?

Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH), the premier referral hospital in the country, generates more chemotherapy waste than the general or dry waste.

In 2014, JDWNRH generated 1050.5 kilograms of chemotherapy waste followed by general, dry waste of 9577.2 kg, pathological waste weighing 2142.9 kg, 3461.7 kg of infectious and hazardous waste and 1493.5 kg of sharps.

The Assistant Nursing Superintendent, JDWNRH, Chimmi Lhamu, said that the hospital faces many challenges with the waste disposal as the hospital does not have proper storage facilities for the waste. She said that there are plans to convert an old laundry room into a waste storage room.

She said that all of the waste is disposed according to the rules and regulation set by the National Environment Commission. The general waste or dry waste is collected in the green colored waste bins. Chimmi Lhamu said there is no treatment required for the dry waste which is directly disposed of in the municipal waste bins.  The food waste from the hospital is also thrown along with the general waste.

She said that the pathological waste, like body parts, placenta, etc., are collected in the red waste bins and then buried in deep pits.  The infectious or hazardous waste are also collected in red waste bins and further processed through a treatment called autoclaving which sterilizes and disinfects the waste. It is then disposed of in the municipal waste bins.

Although the hospital does not generate much pharmaceutical waste, however, a few waste medicine tablets are dissolved to dilute the dose and flushed down the drains.  When there are more than 10 tablets then it is returned to the central supply store. The Assistant Nursing Superintendent said there are no guidelines, as such, for chemical waste disposal. She said most of the chemical waste, like disinfectants are flushed down the drain after dilution.

She said that sharp waste, like injection needles, razors, etc., are collected in the yellow cardboard boxes. The sharp waste is treated through autoclaving and then incinerated whereas the pressurized containers are put in the green waste bins along with the general waste. The incineration is carried out in Gedu.

Chimmi Lhamu said there is no radioactive waste generated in the hospital so far. She said that the chemotherapy waste, like gloves, masks, empty drugs vials, etc., which is collected in the red buckets is incinerated in Gedu.

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