Dr Yinka Goodman, Public Health Consultant with the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), said on Thursday that improper medical waste disposal could foster the spread of diseases.

 

 

Dr. yinka said this in Lagos that 20 per cent of the waste from health facilities were infectious, toxic, or radioactive and could constitute health hazard to anyone who in contact with such waste.

 

 

“Waste that are generated in the processes of making diagnosis, treatment, immunization or research, that’s basically what we refer to as medical waste.

 

 

“In the process of making a diagnosis, probably I tell a patient to go for a blood test; at the end of the day, what may be needed, will just be a very tiny drop.

 

 

“It means that you will still have some left and that would have to be discarded.  `If it is something that is present in the blood or in sputum or faeces, in urine and I discard it anyhow, these things will somehow get to some other individuals if not properly discarded. `

 

 

She added that the proper disposal of such waste would ensure that the populace was not unduly exposed to preventable diseases.

 

 

The physician praised the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) for “making a difference“ in the area of medical waste disposal.

 

 

“LAWMA has also gone ahead with international standards, trying the color coding of waste disposal.   “We have the black-coded nylon, the yellow, the red.  The black-coded disposal bag is for non-infectious waste, while the yellow one is for infectious waste and we have the red for highly infectious waste.  “For medical waste, this is a very good initiative for us to do.’’

 

 

She said it was unfortunate that many people believed that they could eliminate the threat from waste products by burning them.

 

 

According to her, the burning of hazardous waste leads to the release of dangerous toxins into the air.

 

 

“When open burning occurs, the fumes are carried miles away even from where the burning is taking place and this puts the residents of the surrounding communities at risk of certain diseases.

 

 

“Continuous exposure to medical waste can result in carcinogenic impairments like cancer, immune impairments like asthma, developmental and learning impairments as well as reproductive issues,“ she said.

 

 

The physician said that in situations where burning was the only disposal method available, the burning of waste should be done in a closed container or space to limit the spread of airborne toxins

 

 

Goodman urged other state governments to adopt the medical waste disposal policy of the Lagos State Government for the wellbeing of Nigerians

 

 

“Since one state has done it, that means eliminating the treat of medical waste is achievable,“ she said.

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