On the Frontline: There is need for awareness on social distancing, says Dr Ghatge, nodal officer, Swachh Survekshan
Etiquette of mask usage and handling of this special waste, which we are trying our level best to make people understand, she saysUpdated: Apr 10, 2020 16:45 IST
As the assistant medical officer of health under the Solid Waste Management department of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), Dr Ketaki Ghatge is also working as the nodal officer in Swachh Survekshan under Swachh Bharat Mission. She is involved in solid waste management, natural resource management, energy conservation and sanitation.
What is your role in this crisis?
I am responsible for several projects in dealing with the Covid-9 pandemic in Pune. Such as provision for waste collection and disposal from quarantined households, where PMC has asked quarantined households to keep the quarantined person’s waste separately.
PMC has given instructions to hand over segregated waste and sprinkle Sodium Hypochlorite solution or Ethyl Alcohol before handing over this waste to PMC. We have provided separate bags to collect waste from quarantined homes. This bag needs to be kept at a designated place given by PMC.
The waste is being collected by ghantagadis on a daily basis. It is treated as bio-medical waste and is disposed of by an incinerator as per the state government’s guidelines.
PMC has ensured a ghantagadi for each ward office and has given proper training to the driver and assistant to handle and treat the contaminated waste.
Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) such as cap, mask, hand gloves gumboot, soap and protective eyewear has also been provided to the drivers and workers.
We have also provided guidelines and equipment for spraying of sodium hypochlorite solution on waste and vehicle. All the vehicles need to be kept clean and disinfected and disposable PPEs should be incinerated after work.
How does your day begin and rolls out?
My day begins very early, with the handling and management of the PPE distribution and other allied issues and management of vehicles.
I conduct awareness workshops conducted with all coordinators and supervisors of SWaCH in batches and detailed information is disseminated.
The sanitary inspectors and supervisors are also given training about handling any waste related to Covid-19, biomedical waste and household level hazardous waste.
What precautions are you taking?
I exercise regularly even at home; follow a proper diet and ensure adequate sleep which is important. The moment I reach home, I first wash my hands and feet as I have elderly people at home. I also disinfect my house twice and use triple layer cloth mask once I leave home for my duties.
What is your assessment of the Covid-19 crisis in Pune? How is it unfolding?
Covid-19 spread is increasing day by day. We have imparted training to the additional staff for handling this increasing amount of waste. Provision for PPEs , disinfectants and collection bags has also made’ but it is very important to maintain the morale of sanitary workers and wastepickers.
We have also undertaken health check-ups and awareness activities of more than 500 contractual workers on various processing plants with the help of private doctors to keep a balance of their duties especially while handling waste from quarantine homes.
What gaps do you see in health and relief work?
There needs to be greater awareness about social distancing among the general public and etiquette of mask usage and handling of this special waste, which we are trying our level best to make people understand.