Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Lagos pushes for best practices in healthcare waste management

Healthcare waste has been a growing problem in Nigeria as in many other developing countries and cities. Numerous studies showed that before 2006 in Lagos State, 99% of healthcare wastes generated in the State could not be accounted for suggesting that these wastes were being mixed with domestic waste, illegally dumped, buried or burnt within hospital complexes, thus affecting the health of people and the environment.

Wastes from healthcare facilities can pose risks to healthcare workers, patients and communities if not properly managed. There was a general lack of institutional waste management capacity at all levels in Lagos State until 7 years ago.

Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) has been championing the course for best practices in proper healthcare waste management in Lagos State and this is brought to the fore through the Healthcare Waste Summits, an annual event held in the month of October since 2006.

LAWMA had hosted 5 of the series in Lagos (2006 – 2010) and the 1st National Healthcare Waste summit in Abuja (2012) with the main aim of creating awareness on proper and sustainable healthcare waste management system and mobilising stakeholders to adopt and implement best practices thereby reducing/eradicating risks associated with this specialised class of wastes which is a major concern due to infection prevention and control.

According Jijohu Ogun – general manager, administration, LAWMA, the success of the programme includes: Employment of 30 medical PSP operators collecting and transporting waste throughout the 20 LGAs and 37 LCDAs in the State; enlistment of all government hospitals (primary, secondary and tertiary) and over 3,000 private facilities; intensive training for healthcare personnel and waste handlers on best practices; free distribution of consumables and procurement of automated treatment equipment.

This year’s event which is jointly organised by LAWMA, Ministry of Health (HEFAMAA) and Global Health Project and Resources, an indigenous healthcare management company, has as its theme, “Healthcare Waste Management and the Environment.” The event is designed to suit the needs of the participants most especially to include the continuous medical education session which is a basic prerequisite for doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers according to Sasu Bodunrin, project manager, Global Health Project and Resources.

The main features of this year’s summit are to:Review the current practices of waste management in the health sector; Create awareness among all stakeholders on safe and effective waste handling and disposal; Ensure effective waste management operations by regulation through monitoring for compliance. The event will also witness launching the LAWMA guidelines on proper Healthcare Waste Management (HCWM).

Onyebuchi Chukwu, a professor and the honourable minister of health, will be guest of honour

Other dignitaries expected at the event are, Aruna Ogun, professor and provost, College of Medicine, Ogun state; Ashok K. Agarwal, a professor and president, India Society of Hospital Waste Management, Latonye Witley, clinical director, Open City Health Centre, Minnesota, USA; Jide Idris, honourable commissioner of Health, Lagos State and Tunji Bello, commissioner for environment, Lagos State, will be the chief host.

This year’s programme is scheduled to hold on the 29th & 30th October at the NAN Media Hall at National Art Theatre Complex, Iganmu, Lagos and will include presentation, technical papers and exhibition and site visit of medical waste sites.

By: Kemi Ajumobi

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