Mr Ebenezer Appiah Denkyirah, Director-General of the Ghana health service (GHS), on Wednesday in Accra, launched a 47-page manual to serve as a regional reference document for Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member countries, institutions and organisations in the management of health care waste.

The document provides legal, administrative and financial guidelines on daily basis for rational and responsible management of health care waste in the sub-region.

The manual, which is to read, understand and implement, was developed by the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Organisation (ALCO), a sub-regional institution, mandated to help in the prevention of HIV and AIDS, facilitation of free movement of people and goods along the road linking Abidjan and Lagos, among other functions.

The fight against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STDs) as well as HIV and AIDS along the Abidjan-Lagos corridor, requires a multi-dimensional approach to halt the potential risk of further spread of the disease along the stretch due to poor management of health waste.

The ALCO?s intervention, therefore, covers five ECOWAS member countries: Cote d?Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria.

Governments of these countries have ratified the document, to affirm their commitment to ensuring the implementation of the guidelines for the proper management of health care waste in their respective countries.

Mr Appiah Denkyirah said although Ghana had a similar document, its implementation had not been effective, and expressed the hope that the new manual would complement the existing one to promote best practices along this corridor.

Dr Edith Clark, Programme Manager, Occupational and Environmental Health Unit, who gave highlights of the manual, said health care waste was any form of waste generated at health care facilities.

She explained that health facility waste could be classified as either hazardous or non-hazardous, where the former included sharp and contaminated objects that need to be packaged separately in a coded disposal bag to prevent contamination.

The manual, contains basic information about the nature, generation collection, storage, transport, treatment and disposal of health care waste hence its implementation would certainly ensure a culture of best practices at health facilities and borders  to help minimise the incidence of infections of STIs as well as HIV and AIDS, Dr Clark said.

According to her, it was clear that management of such waste in the sub-region was bedevilled with challenges such as ignorance among stakeholders, absence of strong policies, legal framework and weak capacity of waste management professionals, among others.

Dr Clark noted that poor management of health care waste increasingly exposed medical staff and the population to an unhealthy environment and the risk of infections.

She said consequently, ALCO?s interventions were focused on awareness campaign, provision of equipment for personal protection, construction of incinerators and septic tanks, and partnership with the private sector in the collection, removal and disposal of such forms of waste.

Dr Clark asked stakeholders to embrace the use of the manual to ensure safe health care environment for both medical staff and patients.

Source: GNA

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