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.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Alarming Facts About Disposal of Medical Wastes

Kashmir is still in a "stone age" in so far hospital waste management and disposal are concerned

Do not Sleep on it

Even after the tremendous expansion of medical services over the last few decades, healthcare in Kashmir still leaves a lot to be desired. Be it the lack of machinery in our top most hospitals, lack of staff in the medical colleges or adequate laboratory back up in the government hospitals, the lacunae are obvious and visible.

The government may take the ruse of lack of resources for bringing healthcare up to date with at least the current standards in hospitals outside Kashmir, but there are some things which can’t wait for the official, financial or even bureaucratic, convenience. One such area is the disposal of the waste, biomedical and domestic, generated in the hospitals.

Hospital waste management and disposal is a scientific exercise and the job needs to be entrusted to the people qualified for it. In hospitals across Kashmir, tons of waste are generated everyday and as per experts’ estimates 15 percent of the waste is biomedical. There are set guidelines from IPHC and World Health organization for segregation, handling and disposal of such waste. The biomedical waste generated in the hospitals is highly hazardous and can be a cause of spread of various deadly infections like HIV, Hepatitis C to name just two.

The sharps, needles and other biomedical waste has to be disposed off in a scientific way to avert threat to public health and environment. However, even our premier hospitals do not have the capacity or enough qualified manpower to dispose off all the biomedical waste generated in these hospitals. A used syringe, drip-set, catheter, blood bag or a urine bag can be detrimental to the life of the person handling it or a threat to the environment.

A visit to any hospital backyard will reveal how all kinds of waste is dumped together. The protocol of segregating the waste according to the level of hazard it carries is not followed properly and as a result all kinds of waste are clubbed together and dumped anywhere the sanitation staff finds it convenient. Even the premier hospitals in Kashmir lack needle crushers, which are necessary to avoid infections. The staff mostly seems oblivious of the colour coding standards of waste management. Rag pickers can be seen sifting through the hospital waste looking for recyclables, which is sent to factories outside Kashmir.

The need to set up waste disposal plants in all districts of Kashmir can’t be overlooked anymore. A concerted effort – of imparting training to the staff, setting up infrastructure and taking the problem seriously – must be initiated at the earliest to avert spread of infection and to save the environment.

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