ByÂ Sola Ogundipe
ALL roads led to the sleepy town of Epe in Lagos StateÂ Thursday last week as people from far and near converged at the Epe General Hospital for a special event never before witnessed within the environs. It was the official dedication of the NNPC/Chevron Joint Venture medical incinerator project built in partnership with the Lagos State government.
Thanks to this collaborative initiative, medical waste disposal in Lagos and environs have taken a turn for the better. Henceforth, no longer will medical waste be disposed in hazardous and unhygienic manner as was the practice in the past as the new incinerator will judiciously support the principle of good healthcare delivery, and promote the safety of patients, health care workers and the entire community.
The brand new, 75kg/hr Pennram Medical Waste Incinerator -Â first of its kind in Lagos State andÂ second in the country – is meant toÂ handle all CNL generated medical waste in the Lagos area of its operations plus a maximum of 1,500kg per week of medical waste from the Lagos State government designated hospitals.
The project component also included the supply and installation of the incinerator, a 40 KVA sound proof generator, 33,000-liter diesel tank as well as the renovation of an existing building on site to serve as the storage facility and the operations office.
Prior to the coming of the new incinerator, hospitals owned by the State government had no designated means or site for medical waste disposal. Even Chevron Nigeria Ltd., was taking its medical waste as far as Warri/ Escravos in Delta State for safe disposal.
But the snag was that the long storage time between generation of the waste and final disposalÂ increased the potential risk of exposure to those who have to collect, transport and dispose the waste.
Commenting on the undesirability of such arrangement, CNLâ€™s General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Engr. Femi Odumabo, who represented the Chairman and Managing Director, Mr. Angrew Faw thrope observed that such arrangement only exposed the company to compliance, financial, HES and credibility risks.
â€œThis facility is a product of NNPC/Chevron JVâ€™s tradition of care and commitment to healthcare in its areas of operation. It cost the NNPC/Chevron JV hundreds of millions to be build. We have committed to bear the annual maintenance cost, also in the tens of millions. The project will serve the need of the Epe General Hospital,Â other Lagos State government hospitals within the area as well as Chevronâ€™s medical facilities in Lekki and Gbagada.â€
Odumabo opined that the event was a celebration of an important partnership involving the investment of human and material resources by the parties. He said the opportunity for the project was for CNL to manage its medical wastes responsibly by developing an integrated waste management system which identified the need to install and operate a medical waste incinerator within Lagos area among other waste handling practices.
â€œIt was also thought that capacity in this respect be extended to the Lagos State Government who have demonstrated a strong resolve to improve health management as well as protect the environment.â€
Just before dedicating the facility, Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola emphasised the essence of partnership
â€œIt is not the size but theÂ good naturedness of the intervention that matters. As we make progress with our waste management initiative, the intervention is strategic because it focuses on medical waste which is hazardous if not well managed. Chevron has beaten us to it but I implore the personnel to take advantage to ensure that medical waste is properly disposed for the benefit of our people.â€
Further, Fashola said theÂ project would benefit the Lagos State Government by providing a paradigm shift in the way medical waste is disposed in the state. He said it enhances capacity by showcasing global best practices for medical waste disposal and complement the State governmentâ€™s medical infrastructure.
Ordinary medical waste disposal methods are damaging to people and the environment. Much of the industrialised worldâ€™s medical waste is treated through incineration rather than alternative methods that tend to produce mercury, a potent, cancer-causing chemical.
The NNPC/Chevron joint venture has provided professional training to personnel that will be handling the day to day operations of the facility andÂ will guarantee professional and sustainable management of the unique facility.
In the implementation of the project, the company had robust engagement with the hospital community as well as the local community at large. The project provided employment for the local community during the construction phase and offers such employment opportunities to sustain its operations.
It is belived the facility will inspire all the stakeholders to deeply consider the impact of improperly managed medical waste on the environment, while encouraging establishment of more medical incinerators in the country.