Our existing waste management infrastructure will simply not cut it
Even in the best of times, waste management in Bangladesh falls short of the mark. But now, in the time Covid-19, with daily death rates higher than ever, poor waste management is a matter of life and death. We simply must fix this problem if we are to contain the spread of the virus and bring down the death toll.
More than a year has passed since WHO declared Covid-19 to be a pandemic, but frustratingly, a safe system, one that adheres to the Medical Waste Management and Processing Rules 2008, is yet to be introduced. As a result, highly infectious medical waste is being mismanaged, threatening not just public health, but the environment. It is impossible to overstate just how much waste is being put out there into the world: According to a study from last year, 1.63kg to 1.99kg of medical waste was being generated per day per bed. Added up, this amounts to an overwhelming volume.
Our existing waste management infrastructure will simply not cut it for the challenges of 2021. It was an inadequate system even pre-Covid, but now, with hospitals overcrowded and every ICU bed taken up, it is a potential catastrophe. We could be looking at a disaster on top of a disaster.
It is high time for the experts to formulate a sustainable waste management plan for Bangladesh, especially the capital city, which is the most densely populated. The government, instead of passing the buck, must implement these policies. There is no reason for us to not be able to rise to this task, given how much infrastructural work we have recently done. Only the political will is needed.