Call for proper waste management in Kathmandu valley amidst COVID-19

Kathmandu, August 27

As the number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise in Kathmandu valley, the issue of contaminated waste generated by hospitals, health care facilities and isolation centres has emerged as a new challenge for local level governments.

The amount of contaminated waste has been increasing exponentially.

Experiences from other countries have shown that the amount of hospital waste could increase by up to 600 per cent due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Bearing this in mind, Guthi, in collaboration with World Health Organisation, Nepal and with active participation of various municipalities in the valley recently organised, ‘Discussion Programme on Management of the Solid Waste and Safety of the Sanitation Workers during COV- ID-19.’ At the programme, Dr Sudan Panthi from WHO made a presentation based on the guideline, Health Care Waste Management in the Context of COVID-19 Emergency, published by the Ministry of Health and Population, read a press release issued by Guthi, an NGO working in the sector of environment protection and sanitation, today.

Dr Surendra Prasad Chaurasia, chief of Environmental Health and Health Care Waste Management Section at the MoHP highlighted the points mentioned in the guideline. He opined that due to the high risk of COVID-19 infection, extra precautions must be taken while managing health care waste.

Ashok Kumar Byanju Shrestha, president of Municipal Association of Nepal and mayor of Dhulikhel Municipality said the government had not prioritised waste management and had failed to give proper attention to the safety and livelihood of sanitation workers.

Dhurba Acharya, president of Solid Waste Management Association of Nepal, shed light on the issues faced by sanitation workers during this emergency period.

He pointed out the lack of infrastructure for waste management.

Waste segregation and recycling have been limited to pilot projects and garbage trucks face problems in transporting waste to the landfill sites due to bad roads during monsoon season.

Currently, hundreds of COVID-19 patients are in home isolation in the valley. As such, the waste generated by those patients is ultimately mixed with the municipal waste, which leads to the risk of contamination and infection, especially for sanitation workers.

Acharya pointed out that it was important to segregate the waste generated by COVID-19 patients.

Bio-hazard bags must be provided to safely collect waste from the households with such patients, according to Acharya.

Mitra Prasad Ghimire, general secretary of SWMAN, warned that waste from households with COV- ID-19 patients in home isolation and hospital waste was being collected alongside municipal waste.

He also stated that sanitation workers in Kathmandu and Lalitpur lacked PPEs to safely carry out their duties.

Ghimire emphasised that safety of the sanitation workers must be the priority during this time.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on August 28, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.