RAWALPINDI, May 2: The Punjab government has not yet taken steps to repair or replace the only incinerator installed at Holy Family Hospital which stopped functioning about two months back, forcing three government hospitals in the city to dispose of their infectious waste manually.

Sources told Dawn on Sunday that since the incinerator developed faults, its management did not lift waste from District Headquarters Hospital and Benazir Bhutto Hospital. These hospitals are now dumping the waste in their stores from where used syringes, drips and blood bags are going missing for their resale in the market, said the sources. They said the faulty incinerator left most of the hospital waste untreated, prompting its theft and resale.

According to official estimates, total 170 kg per day waste is produced in HFH and 100 kg per day each at BBH and DHQ hospital. It took two hours to dispose of the waste of all these three hospitals if the incinerator worked properly.

The provincial government installed the incinerator at the HFH in 2006 at a cost of Rs20 million but it developed fault after six months. The sources said the incinerator used to produce toxic fume which created hazards for the adjoining residential areas, including Satellite Town and Mohallah Raja Sultan.After sensing the situation, the administration of the incinerator operated the machine to burn hospital waste only at night to avoid objection from the residential areas. But the machine further developed faults about two months back and stopped functioning.

Officials informed Dawn that the DHQ hospital management disposed of the hospital waste on Friday (April 28) through private sanitary workers. They said waste from Benazir Bhutto Hospital had not been lifted for the last one month.

When contacted, the medical superintendents of DHQ hospital and BBH admitted that waste had not been lifted by the incinerator centre for the last one month. “We are dumping the hospital waste manually, as the incinerator centre does not send its vehicle to lift them,” said Dr Zaman Khan Niazi, the MS of BBH.

Sources said the incinerator was installed to also accommodate the waste of public and private sector clinics and hospitals but it was not being fully utilised by them.

They said only the DHQ Hospital, Benazir Bhutto Hospital, HFH, Bilal Hospital, Nori Hospital, Family Hospital, Islamabad; Railway Hospital and Ali Medical Centre, Gujar Khan, were sending their waste to the incinerator.

The incinerator service was free of cost for government hospitals; however, the board of management Rawalpindi Medical College had fixed Rs20 per kg waste as the fee for private hospitals and clinics. In case they also used the transport of the incinerator centre, the fee was Rs25 per kg waste.

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