• Friday, Oct 30, 2020
  • Last Update : 10:52 am

ED: We cannot ignore medical waste

  • Published at 06:23 pm June 5th, 2020
File photo of low quality PPE being sold on the side of a street in Dhaka city Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

Our dealing of the coronavirus pandemic should not put environmental issues on the backburners

June 5 was World Environment Day, a day for “encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment,” with this year’s theme specifically aimed at celebrating biodiversity.

But, unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the opposite, with instances of negligent behaviour which puts biodiversity further at risk, both across the world and in Bangladesh.

This has come about in the form of the mismanagement of medical waste, most of which is plastic, which is being thrown away haphazardly, with little to no regard for the environment or the potential risk it poses to the health of others.

Our dealing of the coronavirus pandemic should not put environmental issues on the backburner. In fact, it is the other way round: Not only is medical wasting causing severe detrimental effects to nature and wildlife, this waste -- which includes PPE -- is contaminated, and could further exacerbate the situation, and increase the spread of the coronavirus amongst the population.

For a country which has felt the detrimental effects of climate change firsthand and has always remained on the forefront in the fight against it, we should be doing better.

It is rather unfortunate that, as of now, only one NGO is dealing with the issue of medical waste management, but this needs to tackled at the governmental level, with at least 14,500 tons of medical waste having been generated in the month of April alone.

The Department of Environment has circulated a public briefing in this regard but this is not enough.

Action regarding the management of medical waste must come more promptly, and must be exhaustive in ensuring that it no longer poses a threat to the environment and the safety of the Bangladeshi people.

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