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In a country where medicine bottles are often discarded in hospital garbage dumps without due processing, the new Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules 2016 are a step in the right direction.
Of the 1-2 kg of waste generated per bed per day in an Indian hospital, 15% is either infectious or hazardous. Other dangers lurk: the development of drug-resistant micro-organisms, for instance, or the chance that prohibited disposables and discarded drugs may turn up recycled.
The new rules are an improvement on the ones framed in 2011: not only is there clarity on the definition of biomedical waste, there’s also a requirement of pre-treatment on site and a plan to establish a bar-code system for waste containers and bags.
A well-framed rule book by itself does not guarantee much. It requires compliant agents of health. India needs its apothecaries and hospitals to clean up good.