…Warns of Harmful Effect If Not Properly Managed…
The Assistant Chief Nursing Officer (ACNO), General Hospital, Ijede, Nurse Adenike Ajala, has called for the proper management of all medical waste, warning against its harmful effects to the public, if not appropriately managed.
The ACNO, who disclosed this during the monthly Continuous Medical Education (CME) held for staff of the hospital, described medical/healthcare waste as any kind of waste that contains infectious material or all waste generated by health, research and laboratory facilities in the course of providing healthcare services.
According to her, healthcare waste contains potentially harmful micro-organisms that can infect hospitals, patients, healthcare workers and the general public, stressing that anyone who experiences accidental needle puncture from one used on an infected patient has the risk of 30%, 1.8% and 0.3% of becoming infected with Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and HIV respectively.
She listed other risks as radiation burns, thermal injuries, air pollution, chemical burns arising in the context of disinfection, sterilisation or waste treatment activities.
While noting that healthcare waste can be divided into two categories, namely hazardous (medical waste) and non-hazardous (domestic waste), Nurse Ajala stated that “if waste is not separated correctly, hazardous waste can contaminate non-hazardous waste and this can make a collection, transfer, transport, treatment and disposal of waste, not only difficult but hazardous”.
She informed that a study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicated that 85% of waste generated by healthcare activities is non-hazardous while 15% is considered hazardous material that could be infectious or toxic.
The ACNO revealed that hazardous waste poses biological, chemical or physical risk to people or the environment, listing infectious waste to include soiled gloves, gauze and bandages that are contaminated with blood or body fluids; pathological waste like human tissues or fluids, organs, placenta, unused blood products; chemical and pharmaceutical waste such as expired, unused and contaminated drugs and vaccines; as well as radioactive waste, among others.
She averred that impediments affecting the effective management of medical waste include lack of enforcement, lack of awareness about the hazards related to healthcare waste, insufficient financial and human resources, nonchalant attitude of staff etc.
“Raising awareness of the risks related to healthcare waste, safe practices, building a comprehensive system, addressing responsibilities, resource allocation, handling and proper disposal of waste, taking responsibility for our safety and the safety of the patients will go a long way in reducing the hazards being faced with healthcare waste”, she counselled.