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Friday, October 07, 2022

Managing COVID-19 Waste in Africa – World

**Brazzaville – **Mask. gloves. Personal Protective Equipment. Comments. These items have become ubiquitous during the COVID-19 pandemic: as protection against viruses, but also as medical waste, burdening Africa’s already clogged landfills.

Before the start of the pandemic, Africa produced an estimated 282 000 tonnes of medical waste every year, according to a 2021 report on waste management published by Sage, a journal. Now, many countries are reporting an up to five-fold increase in medical waste.

To address the surge, the World Health Organization (WHO) is helping African countries develop targeted and tailored waste management protocols that complement existing measures. These include promoting safe methods of waste disposal that are viable, economical and sustainable.

“WHO is engaging in multi-sectoral efforts to effect change in waste management systems in Africa,” says Claude Mangobo, Technical Officer for Vaccine Logistics and Supply Chain in the Vaccine Pillar of the WHO Regional Office for Africa. “This is an important process to which we are committed to the health of the continent and its people.”

With more than 435 million COVID-19 vaccines administered in the rollout so far in Africa – the largest rollout of any vaccine in the continent’s history – the need for effective disposal of medical waste has become more urgent.

In the African region, masks, gloves and protective equipment have become the daily uniform, especially among health workers. They are among 75% of COVID-19 related medical waste which are non-hazardous when handled properly.

However, the remaining 25% of the material is hazardous COVID-19 vaccine waste. This includes discarded COVID-19 vaccine vials and safety boxes containing syringes and other sharp waste.

Properly designed incinerators and engineered sanitary landfills are recommended. However, there are significant drawbacks to the use of waste management guidelines in many countries. In their absence, measures such as burning of waste in an isolated pit or safe burial in hospital premises are preferred to indiscriminate dumping – or worse, burning waste in drums or in the open, leading to toxic emissions.

In accordance with the 1989 Basel and 2001 Stockholm conventions governing medical waste management, WHO advocates the use of techniques that remove chemicals or hazardous emissions, such as high-temperature incineration, using high-pressure steam (autoclaving). Do not manufacture and release, or microwave

However, a recent WHO assessment of 10 African countries showed that only four countries scored more than 80% in their COVID-19 waste management, including handling used syringes, storing safety boxes and removal, recording, storing and removing needle stick injuries. Vaccine packaging, management of the waste storage area, and on-site disposal of vaccination waste.

A WHO report in February found that 60% of health care facilities in least developed countries are not equipped to handle existing waste, let alone the additional COVID-19 burden. This potentially exposes healthcare workers to needle stick injuries, burns, and pathogens. It also has a negative impact on communities living near poorly managed landfills and waste disposal sites through burning waste, poor water quality or air contaminated with disease-carrying insects.

In response, WHO called on the United Nations Development Program, the Global Environment Facility, a conservation group, and Health Care Without Harm—as well as an organization working for environmentally responsible health care—to help healthcare workers. A ‘decision tree’ has been developed for Informed decisions about COVID-19 vaccine waste management.

“In the face of COVID-19, sustainable health care waste management is more important than ever to protect communities, health workers and the planet and prevent pollution,” says Ruth Stringer, Science and Policy Coordinator for Health Care Without Harm.

WHO is also managing the effective tracking of expired COVID-19 vaccines in the African region through weekly stock status reports, monitoring the conduct of waste management protocols to guide the destruction and disposal of hitherto untested vaccines. are important. The online Waste Management Questionnaire, designed by WHO for continuous monitoring of waste management activities, will be administered every quarter of the year.

For additional information or to request an interview, please contact:
Meenakshi Dalal
communication consultant
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +1 (682) 812 2306 (WhatsApp)

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