Research title: Development of Medical Waste Management Policy in Niger State
Start date: February 2013
The management of medical waste is essential to ensure that healthcare delivery does not pose risk or potential risk of infection to those it should benefit. Medical waste management is an emerging issue of global interest. It is of great interest to the public because of its perceived health hazards; but has only remained theoretical in Nigeria, despite the population size and increased healthcare services. Currently, there are no minimum national requirements for the management of medical waste to guide the regions or state governments in making their own regulations. Most studies on medical waste in Nigeria have only focused on management issues like classifications, characterisation, treatment/disposal techniques and critique of current practice. They have fallen short of addressing the fundamental problem that has hindered effective management hitherto; i.e. non existence of institutional structure or management plan and policy that would promote best practices. This is the focus of current research, to develop a practicable plan and policy that will encourage community participation, reduce occupational and environmental risks, and enhance public health.
The research will be based upon survey of common producers and managers of medical waste with a view to identify the best practices to be adopted. By becoming familiar with a wide range of medical waste management adherence to UK regulations, it is hoped that the best practice can be developed for Niger state.
The current practice in Nigeria is indiscriminate disposal in rivers, municipal solid waste dumpsite and open burning of the waste. The main issues of concern with the current practice are: risk of injury and infection of members of the public by sharps waste contaminated with hepatitis or HIV/AIDS virus, risk of domestic animals becoming disease vectors to humans, after foraging and ingesting infected materials at dumpsites; risk of gleaning used syringes and needles or expired drugs from garbage for reuse or sale to the public; risk of contamination of sources of public water supply by infectious leachate from dumpsites, thereby exposing public health to infectious diseases; release of Dioxins, Furans, and POPs into the environment from open burning; and uptake of dioxins by plants cultivated near dumpsites or fish where leachate has drained. The dioxins when consumed through food chain may bioaccumulate, biomagnify and bioamplify in humans to cause toxic effects in organs.
Dr Ann Tough