To manage waste effectively, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) would support health facilities in eight dzongkhags through grants in the 12th Plan.

Programme analyst with Infection Control and Medical Waste Management Programme with the health ministry, Pem Zam said that an ADB project would support health facilities to build the infrastructure including waste storage house for hospitals and BHU I.

The project will also include construction of deep burial pits for all health facilities in the eight dzongkhags of Trashiyangtse, Trashigang, Mongar, Pemagatshel, Samdrupjongkhar, Dagana, Trongsa and Zhemgang.

“They will also be providing us with autoclave and weighing machine as a package,” Pem Zam said.

The main challenge with waste management is fund constraint. “At least in the 12th Plan, the eight dzongkhags will be comfortable in waste management.”

She said the programme would emphasise on three Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and has written to the dzongkhags highlighting the areas in focus and requesting the dzongkhag administration to incorporate it in their plans since the funding is decentralised.

A modern health care waste management pilot project has been initiated in Phuentsholing hospital since 2016 with support from World Health Organisation. As part of the project, a waste storage house has been constructed along with a deep burial pit.

She said an NGO called ‘healthcare without harm’ in Nepal were implementing practices that were doable in Bhutan. “We got the concept for the pilot project from there,” she said.

The pilot project is doing well but having a dedicated focal person to manage waste in health centres is a challenge.

The programme gets reports on medical waste in health centres from the dzongkhags annually.

Besides being the lone official with the programme, Pem Zam also looks after two more programmes with the ministry. “When I am the only one looking after three programmes, you cannot focus on one. Getting the reports from dzongkhags is also a challenge.”

Every month, the ministry gets morbidity reports from dzongkhags, which is entered in the data collection system. If the reports of waste generated from the health centres were also incorporated with the system, then she wouldn’t have to follow up.

Dechen Tshomo