By Jude NJOKU
THE challenges posed by healthcare wastes dominated discourse at the 5th Medical Waste Summit organised by the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) in collaboration with relevant stakeholders in the state.
Healthcare wastes which include sharps and non-sharps, blood, body parts, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and radioactive materials are generated by health facilities, trado-medical homes, traditional birth attendants, tattoo-homes, barbers saloon and veterinary clinics.
Flagging off the discourse, Governor Babatunde Fashola catalogued the achievements of his administration in the area of solid waste management. “ I am happy to report that through environmental cleanup, we are gradually removing hazards to life and health in Lagos and we are seeing an upward swing in the life expectancy index of those who live in our state.
The Olusosun landfill site which used to self-combust and emit poisonous fumes at Ojota has been successfully restored and what used to be visible as an unsightly waste dump has been replaced by lush green grass.
We have replaced toxic fumes with large quantities of oxygen being released to the environment and the community from the green. It is a victory for healthcare through strategic thinking and effective implementation of solid waste management,” Fashola said.
Fashola described the summit as another opportunity to reflect on its role of ensuring a safer and healthier environment for Lagosians. He appealed to all healthcare practitioners to join the government in the crusade for best practices adding that henceforth, adequate healthcare waste certification will be a major indicator for renewal of practice licences. “All hospitals and medical facilities in Lagos must lead from the front to ensure proper disposal of clinical waste generated in the process of carrying out their assignment,” he said.
Environment Commissioner, Dr. Muiz Banire said the volume of medical waste generated in the state poses an incredible challenge to the government. This is premised on the fact that Lagos has 126 public health centres, 26 General hospitals, about 3,000 private hospitals/clinics and an estimated 160 trado-medical centres and 2,000 laboratories.
Managing Director of LAWMA, Mr. Oladimeji Oresanya said the summit was necessitated by the authority’s experiences in waste collection where healthcare waste are co-mingled, amputated parts are dumped indiscriminately and day old babies are dumped into communal bins.
Oresanya who disclosed that LAWMA has so far collected 5,320,000kg of healthcare waste from facilities in the State, said the Authority will now beam its searchlight on tradomedical homes, veterinary clinics belonging to both government and private individuals, tattoo clinics and saloons as the number of sharps (needles and blades) generated by them are on the increase.
The LAWMA boss lauded the Governor for facilitating the acquisition of Ecodas Hydroclave which is a fully automated treatment machine that shreds and reduces original waste volume by 80 percent. The machine which has a hoist loading system, according to Oresanya utilises steam sterilization and the final products are safe for disposal with other generated waste.
Mr. Oresanya listed the achievements of the programme to include increase in the number of PSP operators (medical) from four to 15 while a total of 3,500 health care facilities are now serviced by LAWMA. Stakeholders who attended the summit included the Federal Ministries of Environment and Health, the Nigerian Medical Association, Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN) and LASEPA