A synergy between government and healthcare providers have been recommended if a clean and dirt-free environment must be realised.
The Sole Administrator, Rivers State Waste Management Agency, RIWAMA, Bro. Felix Obuah, who made the call also argued that the task of effective management of healthcare wastes is a collective responsibility not to be left to government alone.
He noted that the collective participation and synergy with RIWAMA would fast-track the achievement of set objectives of the Agency and engender a dirt-free, clean and healthy environment in Rivers.
Speaking while declaring open a one-day workshop on Effective Healthcare Waste Management at the RIWAMA Premises, Km 6, Ikwerre Road, Port Harcourt on Thursday, Bro. Obuah said the calibre of resource persons engaged in the workshop showed the seriousness of the Agency to rejig the waste management delivery system in the state. “We are believing that at the end of this all-important workshop, our people will begin to think and do things in a new way, rather than thinking and doing things in the usual parochial ways they are used to. I am very convinced that those who listened to the lectures would have a rethink, knowing that whatever thing you put will come back to you”, he said.
While stressing that the summation of the lecture encapsulated the aphorism that ‘health is wealth’, the RIWAMA boss reiterated that it is not the responsibility of government to pay for the management of wastes generated by citizens. “For the sake of protecting her people, government has gone out of the way to shoulder the responsibility of managing wastes. It is not the global best practice to consider waste management as utility”, he canvassed.
Bro. Obuah posited that the industrial principle of ‘polluter pays’ is premised on the ground that waste is owned by the generator and that citizens owe it to themselves to be responsible and law-abiding, adding, “They need to change and begin to exercise duty of care in managing waste products.”
In his lead presentation, the National Consultant, Public Health and Environment, World Health Organization (WHO), Nigeria, Dr. Edwin Isotu Ede, warned on the implications of improper disposal of healthcare waste products.
Dr. Ede, who made his presentation virtually, said the dreaded HIV/AIDS disease could be contracted through improperly disposed healthcare wastes’ products.
Emphasizing that good health is a function of a good waste management system, he warned that healthcare management should not be politicized.
Dr. Edeh commended Bro. Obuah for “his courage and wisdom to organize the training” as according to him, it was timely and germane for a healthier and cleaner Rivers State.
Other facilitators at the workshop included Dr. Ransome Lilly West whose paper was on Legal Burdens, Healthcare Waste Management, Extant Laws and legal implications for Generators. Another resource person at the event, Prof. Charles Tobin-West, delivered a paper which dwelt on Public Health Concerns, Healthcare Waste Management in the context of infection, Prevention and Control, while Pastor Sanitarian Walson Paminola spoke on Environmental Health Perspective – Healthcare Waste Management and Hospital Sanitation.
Other papers were on Effective Regulation of Generators and Private Service Providers, Healthcare Waste Handling, Documentation, Data Management and Transportation by H.A. Tobin-West, and, Liquids and Gaseous Healthcare Waste – Healthcare Effluents and the Prevalence of Tissue Toxicity, Anti-Microbial Drug Resistant Strains delivered by Dr. Sanitarian Newman K. Samuel.
The workshop, which had in attendance, the Chairman, House Committee on Environment, Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Dumle Maol, and principal officers of RIWAMA, was also graced by organizations from the health sector. They included Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, Nigerian Environmental Society, NES, National Association of Laboratory Scientists, AGPMPN, NESREA and officials from the Ministries of Health and Environment, respectively.