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Take advantage of COVID-19 to establish bio-medical waste treatment plants – IMANI advises government

Civil Society Organisation IMANI Africa has advocated for the setting up of bio-medical treatment plants across the country to deal with the increased waste.

IMANI Ghana noted that with the spread of the pandemic, COVID-19, to the country there has been an increase in volumes of bio-medical waste worsening the already precarious situation.

Bio-medical waste is unwanted materials and products from medical laboratories, hospitals and clinics and includes such materials as blood, tissue from surgery or birth, gloves, used bandages, and sharps such as syringes, needles, and blades and PPEs and other materials unwanted after treatment of COVID-19 patients.

IMANI suggests that the government, in solving the issue, could take advantage to advance its industrialisation drive by providing incentives to financially capable institutions in the private sector to facilitate the establishment of bio-medical waste factories in almost every region.

At the moment, the policy Think Tank observed, only 200 hospitals in the Greater Accra Region dispose of their bio-medical waste according to acceptable standards raising health concerns about how the other health facilities in the region and across the country get rid of such waste.

In an article addressing the issue, IMANI pointed out that, “It would seem, that COVID-19 indeed has exposed our inadequacies, but at the same time opened up opportunities for maximising our industrial capability to intentionally target the establishment of state-of-the-art bio-medical waste treatment plants in each region.

“And the government doesn’t need to commit public funds to it. Just reasonably and transparently calculated tax breaks on imported equipment. The government can simply announce this tomorrow and get private actors already in the space with demonstrable financial and operational capacity to get to work at once. It can add that to its achievements in time for election 2020.

“Out of an estimated 500 hospitals and clinics in Accra alone, only 200 actually dispose of bio-medical waste professionally. They all use the only ONE bio-medical waste facility in Ghana built by a private entrepreneur.

“How do the remaining 300+ health facilities in Accra deal with their medical waste? How do the hundreds of public and private health facilities across the 15 regions treat medical waste?” the Think Tank quizzed in an assessment of the situation.

Referring to a similar call it made in 2016 for attention to be paid to that aspect of health management because of the hazards it posed to Ghanaians, IMANI called for existing laws to be enforced to ensure the health of millions of people is safeguarded.

Failure to enforce the laws, IMANI Ghana observed, will mean that health institutions will continue to poorly dispose of their waste particularly liquid into drains which may be used by farmers and other unsuspecting persons for several purposes.

“In May 2016, IMANI conducted a study on the state of biomedical waste treatment in Ghana and urging the then government to not only fast track legislation but implementation as well.

“It is widely understood that municipal solid waste, if not managed correctly, can be an environmental and health hazard.

“Biomedical waste has a higher risk of injury or infection compared to ordinary waste, therefore, safe and reliable methods for its management are crucial.  Inadequate and inappropriate handling of biomedical waste is likely to have serious public health ramifications through direct contact or indirectly through the environment,” aspects of the 2016 study found out.

Based on this, the institution says it has helped to pass the “Hazardous and Electronic Waste Control and Management Act 917 (2016)” and the “Policies and Guidelines on Healthcare Waste Management in Ghana (2018)” insisting “What is missing is total enforcement of the above.”



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