PIMS Medical Waste Being Sold at Black Market for Reuse


by Hamna Bano

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Recent reports have revealed that the medical waste at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences ends up in Islamabad’s black market for reuse. This is not just disturbing but also a symptom of a much bigger problem in a country where infectious diseases have already spread like wildfire. 


The reports that appeared in a newspaper on Tuesday informed that “the vendor hired by PIMS to discard the medical waste on hospital premises has been involved in the sale of infectious material such as blood bags, and discarded syringes with the help of hospital staff.”

According to the World Health Organization, a total of 15 percent of the waste generated at hospitals and other healthcare facilities is unsafe and hazardous. It can be toxic, radioactive, and extremely infectious.

The remaining 85 percent is considered to be non-hazardous. But in a country like Pakistan where the administrative controls regarding healthcare and laws are weak, there is always a chance of dishonest elements. There is always a try to make a few bucks by recycling hazardous material for sale in the black market.

Very few healthcare providers put in efforts to segregate hospital waste by following international medical practices. This negligence has been put down to high costs, and ignorance. The reuse of contaminated syringes is believed to have contributed significantly to the spread of blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis C.

Hospitals are not the only place where waste is generated. Animal hospitals, blood banks, and diagnostic laboratories too produce tonnes of medical refuse every day.

The proper management of healthcare waste, especially hazardous material, is crucial for preventing adverse impacts on health and the environment. For this, a legal framework needs to be designed in accordance with international best practices.