A team of experts from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Health Facilities Regulatory Authority (HeFRA) and the Accra School of Hygiene has assessed Tema General Hospital's waste management programme as a COVID-19 treatment centre.
The team visited various wards and departments of the hospital and checked their waste segregation measures as well as other preventive protocols as such hand washing sets.
Madam Abena Nakawa, Programmes Coordinator for the Medical Waste Project, UNDP, after the monitoring, said the project, which started in February 2016, was aimed at providing best environmental practices on waste management with emphasizes on infectious waste.
Madam Nakawa added that according to the World Health Organization (WHO) 85 per cent of waste from health facilities were general waste which were not hazardous adding however that the remaining 15 per cent which were infectious waste, was hazardous and if not properly disposed could pollute the environment and put the public at risk of contracting several diseases.
She added that as a scale up on the gains of the project, it was important that waste management at the facilities be looked to ensure that people were not put at risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus from such waste.
She reminded health providers that waste management start from source therefore it was important to properly label and dispose off their waste adding that used tissue must not be put in an open bin but rather a covered on with lining and properly disposed off by persons in the right personal protective equipment.
Mr Michael Affordofe, Medical Waste Tutor at the Accra School of Hygiene at Korle Bu, said waste management.should be given all the seriousness, explaining that research had shown that the COVID-19 virus could survive for 72 hours and 24 hours respectively on plastics and metals.
Mr Affordofe added that proper waste treatment could be used as a tool to break the chain of the spread of the virus therefore their resolve to monitor and train health facilities to properly handle such waste.
He recommended to the TGH to replace its incinerator with a double chamber one, saying that it was obvious that the current one may be emitting dioxins and furaris pollutants, into the environment as the chimney was too short and the black smoke stains was an indication that burning was being done below the recommended 800 to 1,200 degrees Celsius.
He said another alternative was for the hospital to use steam autoclave to treat the waste and shred it before its disposal to prevent spreading of infectious diseases.
Mr Agyeman Badu, Acting Head of Operations at HeFRA, said as part of his outfit's mandate under Act 289 (2011), it was collaborating with the UNDP to ensure that waste disposal standards were strictly adhered to.
Mr Badu said they had scheduled to visit 800 public and private facilities in the Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions saying they had already covered over 500 facilities.
Dr Richard Anthony, Medical Director of the Tema General Hospital, said such monitoring had gone a long way to shape practices at the facility.
Dr Anthony said proper waste management was high on the agenda of the hospital and measures had been taken to handle it well for the safety of both patients and staff.
He said TGH was currently using the colour coding to separate waste indicating that the black bins and linings were for general waste while the yellow ones were for infectious waste.
Touching on its single chamber incinerator, he said the facility had done well by moving away from open burning of hazardous waste and was looking forward to upgrade to a double chamber.
He appealed to the UNDP and other organizations to consider donating a double chamber incinerator for the facility to ensure that no pollution was emitted into the environment.