Dechen Tshomo

The national referral hospital’s struggle in disposing of the mounting medical waste has eased with the initiation of waste disposal to the landfill by its own vehicle since September.

After the Thimphu thromde outsourced the waste collection to Greener Way, the latter collected medical waste from the hospital three days in a week – Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

The hospital was facing problems in disposing of waste, as the collection has become irregular with frequent breakdown of the garbage collection trucks. The waste lies at the hospital’s waste storage house located above the mortuary for days.

The hospital’s medical superintendent, Dr Gosar Pemba said Greener Way has limited number of waste collection trucks and when a truck breaks down, the collection is affected.

He said that sometimes, waste is not collected from the hospital colony in Changzamtok in Thimphu for about a month and when enquired, they say the collection truck has broken down.

Every morning, the hospital’s ward boys and cleaners collect the waste and transport it to the storage house. Infectious waste like blood-soaked bandages and gauze, discarded surgical gloves are autoclaved and papers are shredded.

He said the waste accumulates if it is not collected for disposal even for a day. “We don’t have enough space to keep the waste so we started using our vehicle to transport the waste to the landfill.”

The hospital, on an average, produces about 160kgs of infectious waste every day. Last year, the hospital recorded about 61,000kgs of infectious waste, four times more than the previous year.

Deputy Nursing Superintendent with the hospital, Chhimi Lhamu said the hospital started using its designated vehicle to transport waste  four days a week. Chhimi Lhamu said hospital waste has a high risk of exposure to infection for pedestrian and people residing nearby. “There are high chances of contamination.”

In summer, she said the hospital waste has to be disposed of within 48 hours and  within 72 hours in winter.

She said that while the Greener Way’s garbage truck make it a point to come and collect waste at least once during their collection schedule, the frequent break downs of their garbage collection trucks resulted in the irregular collection of the waste.