LAHORE - Plastic recycling factories and pharmaceutical companies are purchasing infectious medical waste items like syringes, glucose drips, urine bladders bags and glass vials (injection bottles) in abundance coming through various layers of mafia groups dealing in the illegal business with collaboration of hospitals sanitary workers. Sources privy to the hospitals affairs told The Nation that all over Punjab about 7 per cent of the total hospital waste is burnt while good plastic waste after exchange of various hands is sold to its buyers at Rs100 per kg to the plastic factories for recycling or reuse by pharmaceutical companies. A part of hospital waste is heaped up with municipal waste from where the scavengers pick items and sell the same to its buyers in the same illegal market. The major bottleneck in the safe disposals of medical waste is that all district headquarters hospitals (DHQs), tehsil headquarters hospitals (THQs) and private hospitals all over Punjab yet do not have incinerators for burning medical waste which is spread diseases besides illegal sale plastic items by sanitary staff to mafia groups. Hundreds of people in the City are making money out of the illegal business all over Punjab due to the administrative loopholes in affairs of public and private hospitals for handling and disposal of medical waste as per Standards Operating Procedures (SOP) set for it. As per the law, the hospital waste being infectious cannot be utilised in refilling or recycling for making new plastic items. The waste must be burnt at incinerators (furnaces) at high temperature of 3000 degree. Except Children Hospital and Shalimar Hospital Lahore the incinerators are not installed at any public or private hospitals to burn medical waste. The incinerator of Children Hospital provides free of cost waste burning facility to 15 public hospitals while incinerator at the Shalimar hospital is private project and private hospitals have to pay Rs60 per Kg to burn their infectious waste. The sources revealed that the instead of paying Rs60 per kg for burning medical waste at the incinerator at Shalimar hospital, the staff of private hospitals make money by selling the same to mafia hands on the way to the incinerator at Shalimar Hospital. Prof Dr Javed Akram, Principal Allama Iqbal Medical College, Jinnah Hospital, Lahore told The Nation that just 7 per cent of the hospital waste of all privates and public hospitals was being burnt till now, while rest of the medical waste is thrown at the heaps of municipal waste or it was going in wrong hands. Prof Dr Javed Akram added that hepatitis-B and other infections were spreading due to heaps of hospitals waste. Administrator of Children Hospital Ahsan Rathore told The Nation that the incinerator of Children Hospital is burning with responsibility waste of 15 public hospitals but staff of the children hospital can collect which is given to them in packs by staff of each public hospital in the City. We can not demand more from them, he said, adding that waste is produced 1 kg per bed daily. A 2000-bed hospital must produces about 2,000 kg waste daily and 1000-bed hospital produces 1,000 kg waste but fact is that big hospitals in the City are giving maximum 400-kg waste per day for burning in Children Hospital incinerator. He said installation of one incinerator cost about Rs20 million. Dr Muhammad Asif who is in-charge of incinerator at Children Hospital told The Nation that the incinerator of Children Hospital has capacity of burning 2000-kg waste in 24 hours and it works 24 hours in three-shifts to burn on average 1900-Kg waste which is received to incinerator staff from 15 hospitals. The Sheikh Zayed Hospital has a small incinerator for its waste and when it goes out of order its waste is also sent to The Children Hospital for burning. Pakistan Medical Association Punjab President Ashraf Nizami told The Nation that health department has been ignoring the loopholes in the disposal of medical waste over years. He said it doctors has noticed blood spots on some new packed syringes which are provided in the hospitals which shows the old syringes are packed again after some washing process. The officials of the health department told The Nation that in 19 DHQ hospitals the health department is pondering over to install incinerators out of which in six DHQ hospitals installation have been made but yet the plants have not started working. The officials said Jinnah Hospital, Lahore General Hospital, Mayo Hospital, Services Hospital will soon install their own incinerators for safe disposal of their waste.