June 5 is celebrated as the World Environment Day, to remind us of the importance of protecting our environment. Even though mankind has made unprecedented developments in science and technology, at the same time we have completely ignored the state of our planet. The world is more polluted today, than it ever was. There are several different types of pollution, and most of it is fuelled by the waste people generate globally, as well as their habit of treating Mother Nature as a slave, rather than an entity that needs to be safeguarded. One of the drawbacks of modern life is the creation of high-risk waste that leads to an increase in biodegradable pollutants in the air. By definition, waste is “materials, substances, or by-products eliminated or discarded as no longer useful or required after the completion of a process”. Our propensity to waste is incomparable, whether we talk about energy, food, money, natural resources or even waste itself, which can be recycled or used to generate power. Recently, medical waste has posed a huge problem for sanitation workers, as it is not only highly dangerous, but also hard to dispose. Exposure to hazardous medical waste could lead to a series of health challenges, such as infections and life threatening diseases like hepatitis and HIV. Environmental and health risks associated with hospital generated waste can be reduced through efficient policy planning. Each hospital’s management should be tasked with making proper provisions for adequate waste handling and disposal. As population grows, managing hospital waste becomes even more of a challenge, especially in a country like Pakistan, due to the lack of awareness and scarcity of developmental funds required to make the health sector efficient and effective. Both the public and private sector hospitals in Punjab produce a large amount of waste. This can be very harmful for our health if not disposed of properly, according to the prescribed international standards of waste management. According to a study conducted by the Planning Commission of Pakistan, healthcare facilities in the country generate around 250,000 tons of hospital waste per annum. According to the Environment Protection Department (EPD) Punjab, 5.2 million people (including 4 million children) die each year from hospital waste-related diseases. According to a study conducted by the Planning Commission of Pakistan, healthcare facilities in the country generate around 250,000 tons of hospital waste per annum. According to the Environment Protection Department (EPD) Punjab, 5.2 million people (including 4 million children) die each year from hospital waste-related diseases In 2014, the government of Punjab released specific rules for hospital waste management (HWM), for both public and private hospitals. According to these rules, any waste disposal is the sole responsibility of the hospital it originated from. The term hospital was used loosely, as it included clinics, laboratories, dispensaries, pharmacies, nursing homes, health units, maternity centres, blood banks, autopsy centres, research institutes, and veterinary institutions, as well as any other such facility involved in healthcare and biomedical activities. The Punjab Healthcare Commission (PHC) has been working diligently in order to find viable solutions to this problem. They have been tasked with verifying that Hospital Waste Management Committees in all such institutions in the public and private sectors are functioning according to standard operating procedures. The PHC has laid out the roles and responsibilities of these committees, and since the ruling of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the PHC has intensified its drive against HWM. The priority of any health institution is the care of patients, while making profits are secondary. However environmental problems are not given any thought, and it is high time we do so. Inadequate waste management can have a devastating impact on the environment and the well being of our community, and it is our responsibility to find appropriate solutions. The writer is a journalist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, June 15th 2018.