Biohazards become a path to outreach in India.

By May 18, 2004

India (MNN)–Imagine a medical facility that disposed of its used needles, scaples, human tissue and other medical waste by dumping it on the ground behind the building.

Imagine further, that the land on which the waste sits is open, where people traverse it frequently, stepping on used needles. Or perhaps, a drug user, scavenging used hypodermic needles for resale…the reality of bio hazard is significant.

This scene is one that India is trying to address, by passing laws within the last five years to bring medical facilities into comliance.

Unfortunately, very few hospitals have made a move to come under the law, and enforcement has been lax. That’s where the work of Interserve stands out.

Interserve’s Jerry and Wendy Cowles are working to bring the Emmanuel Hospital Association into compliance with new biohazard laws. Jerry explains their work. “The Emmanuel Hospital Association is an association of hospitals that have acquired 19 old mission hospitals and they serve the rural poor.”

Because the hospitals were old, and in need of updating, much needed to be done. Jerry says, “EHA decided that they wanted their hospitals to set the standard and come into compliance with the law. Their waste disposal program was very simple; everything went down on the ground.”

With the Cowles’ assistance, hospital workers dug two pits in the rear of the facility, one for biological waste and one for needle waste. The needle waste is surrounded by a locked gate and fence.

Their facilities are now settting the pace for the larger medical hospitals in the area, by coming under compliance early.

Cowles says their hope is that by ‘lighting the fire’ first, the larger medical groups with more money will follow and invest in a proper medical waste incinerator by which everyone could benifit.

The testimony of the association stands strong, and often draws questions from those who use the medical facilities. However, because the Cowles work in areas where it is illegal to openly evangelize, they must look for opportunities to share their faith. “The biggest way I share Christ over there working, is with the Sunday school classes, the discipleship programs with the adults, working with Bible classes, Bible clubs–things like this within the hospital setting.”

The Cowles, like others who work with Interserve, are Christian professionals who use their professional skills to minister to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the people they serve.

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