Improper disposal of medical waste by many countries, including Bangladesh, has put around half the world's population at risk of contracting infections for exposure at work and from the environment, speakers told an international biosafety conference yesterday.
So it should be sorted into categories such as sharp, radioactive and pathological wastes and disposed of in a systematic way, said Dr Natasha K Griffith, director, High Containment Facilities, University of California.
The International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) organised the two-day conference at Dhaka University's (DU) senate bhaban with support from the Directorate General of Health Services and the US's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and with The Daily Star as a media partner.
Maureen Ellis, executive director, International Federation of Biosafety Associations, said researchers and medical professionals can ensure biosafety by carefully handling biological and chemical substances so as to not get infected and prevent accidental spillage.
Chairing the programme, Vice-Chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique emphasised proper precautionary measures during transportation of infectious substances and chemicals and preventing accidents through stringent punitive measures.
Chief guest Health and Family Welfare Minister Mohammad Nasim said health services in Bangladesh have significantly improved and many universities were conducting research on biosafety.
Safety can be attained if organisations and people concerned share findings with the government, he added.
Stating that Dhaka North City Corporation already has an institution for medical waste management, Mayor Annisul Huq sought specific recommendations and cooperation from icddr,b and experts.
Prof John David Clemens, executive director, icddr,b; David Meale, deputy chief of mission, US embassy; Stephanie Doan, country director, CDC, and Prof Sharif Akhteruzzaman, chairman, DU genetic engineering and biotechnology department, also spoke.