March 03, 2009

Doctors buy bio-medical waste sold as scrap

There has been an uproar over spread of the deadly hepatitis-B virus across north and central Gujarat through recycled injectibles. Yet, about 35 scrap dealers in the city continue to trade in used injectibles and most shockingly, blood bottles, with impunity.

The campaigning by the state government's health department against fake doctors and medical practitioners who do not follow the Bio-medical Waste Management and Handling Rules 1998, has not deterred them. What is shocking is that the dealers, as admitted by them, are hand-in-glove with several local practitioners.

According to sources, these 35 scrap dealers buy used syringes, needles, multiple vials, I-V sets, empty medicine bottles, catheters and even blood bottles which have crossed the stipulated expiry dates. A source in the market said, "The bottles are purchased as scrap and sold at Rs 8 to Rs 20 per kg."

A medical practitioner, not wanting to be named, said, "These practices continue under the nose of health officials of Bhuj, Mandvi, Anjar, Rapar or Gandhidham and no one is bothered." He added, "In Bhuj, these scrap dealers store the goods just beside the police chowki of Madhapur main road. Local doctors send their aides to visit these dealers and buy the stuff."

Admitting this, a scrap dealer said, "Some doctors visit rural areas on their vehicles and their assistants buy the used I-V sets, needles, syringes and other things from the health care centres there."

Meanwhile, an official of Bhuj civic body confessed that only a third of Kutch's doctors have made provisions for disposal of bio-medical waste as suggested by law.

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