Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Wonder how come we are more interested in the world news than about an impending catastrophe next door?

Lack of good hygiene, indifferent management practices and uncaring hospital staff IN EVERY SRINAGAR BASED HOSPITAL is a recipe for a mega disaster waiting to happen

Valley’s mushrooming hospitals flouting rules for biomedical waste disposal

Musavirr Wani (Kashmir Times)

SRINAGAR: Inability of hospital authorities in Srinagar to handle patients care properly; the hospitals have now come under scanner vis-à-vis management of biomedical wastes.

A survey conducted by Jammu and Kashmir State Pollution Control Board (PCB), reveals that none of the hospitals in the valley, particularly in Srinagar, manage the waste as per the prescribed rules.

The survey report informs that the lack of coordination between various government departments and the departments within the health care institutions is handicapping the implementation process of bio-medical waste management rules. The report says that the management of biomedical waste should be a priority while making provision of funds for health care institution.

Mismanagement of the administration in the hospitals and lack of enough funds; and not the non-availability of facilities, is a proving cause of the mess in the waste management in the hospitals here. ”It has been seen that funds often come in way of proper management of waste.

Facilities such as incinerators and STPs available with the government hospitals more than often fail to serve their purpose due to lack of fuel and proper maintenance,” informs the survey report.

As per the survey report, Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital with 750 beds generates 1500 kg of waste per day. Although the incinerator and autoclaves are available in the hospital, but still colour coding is not maintained. Un-segregated waste is burnt in the incinerator, without maintaining proper temperature, which results in the incomplete incarnation.

The survey report also claims that some waste is also burnt in open, as the incinerator often remains nonfunctional due to shortage of fuel. Also the infectious waste is temporarily stored outside incinerator that is accessible to stray animals. Needle destroyer is not available.

In Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), consisting of 500 beds, 2000 kg of waste get generated per day, which is kept un-segregated for the treatment. Although incinerators, autoclaves and STP are available here, but the status of waste management is same as in SMHS hospital. STP in the institute has been renovated recently, but it is not being operated properly.

The 500 bed Lal Ded Maternity Hospital has incinerators and autoclaves available. But the incinerator remains mostly non-functional due to shortage of fuel. Some waste, including human anatomical waste (Placenta, etc.) is thrown away on the banks of river Jehlum. Here also, colour coding is not maintained and the needle cutter is non existent.

For the 350 bedded SKIMS Medical College Hospital, Bemina, there are only autoclaves available. The present status of the waste management in the hospital shows that un-segregated waste remains scattered in the open and is easily accessible for rag-pickers and animals. Although the infectious waste from here is handed over to Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), but the colour coding is not maintained and the needle cutter is not available. Also the waste is stored beyond 48 hours.

The 350 beds at Chest Diseases Hospital at Dalgate have no treatment facility available. The highly infectious waste from this hospital is handed over to SMC after storing it beyond 48 hours. There is no needle cutter available and the colour coding is also not maintained. The sanitation staff handles the infectious waste without having any protective gear.

The Bone and Joint Hospital at Barzulla with 175 beds has an incinerator and autoclaves available. But incinerator is not functional. Colour coding is not maintained and the needle cutter is not available. Waste here is stored beyond 24 hours and remains easily accessible to animals and birds.

In 175 bedded Children’s Hospital Hazuri Bagh, no treatment facility for waste management is available. The unsegregated waste from this hospital is handed over to LD hospital for incineration and sometimes handed over to SMC. No dust bins are places in wards here and the waste collection bins placed in the corridors are not cleaned.

And, in the 100 bedded Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Hospital, Rainawari, only one waste treatment facility (autoclaves) is available. Infectious waste is partially burnt in the open and the remaining quantity is dumped in hospital backyard. No waste bins are placed in wards.

The findings of the survey report reveal that the management of bio-medical waste management is a least priority in Srinagar hospitals. The report suggests that personnel from areas such as housekeeping, laundry, kitchen and others with the institution should be involved in the waste management.

“Doctors can play a vital role by educating para-medical staff and others about the importance of handling bio-medical staff and others about the importance of handling bio-medical infectious waste in a scientific manner,” reads the PCB survey report.

The PCB has also given a list of recommendations in its survey report for the improvement of waste management system. These include segregation of bio-medical waste from other wastes. It should be done in containers at the point of generation prior to its storage, treatment and disposal. The containers should be labeled.

Destruction of needles and syringes at source should be kept stored beyond a period of 48 hours. The municipal body of the area should pick up and transport segregated non-infectious waste generated in the hospitals and nursing homes.Separate vehicles with conspicuous labeling need to be engaged for waste transportation. And before final disposal, infectious waste must be subjected to treatment with either heat or chemicals.

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