Participants at Ghana’s Medical Waste Pilot Project (Photo: Matilda Dennis Quaicoe/UNDP)

The United Nations Development Programme, UNDP is implementing a medical waste pilot project in collaboration with the Government of Ghana.

The pilot project titled “Reducing Unintended Persistent Organic Pollutants  and mercury releases from the health sector in Africa” seeks to support Ghana improve upon healthcare waste management for sustainable development.

The project is being implemented through the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service from August 2015 to July 2019, and is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Health Care Without Harm, (HCWM).

This was made known during the project inception workshop held in the Eastern Regional capital, Koforidua.

Unintended Persistent Organic Pollutants (UPOPS) are hazardous substances that do not break down quickly remaining in the environment for a long time. They present a high risk to human life and various ecosystems and are considered some of the most toxic cancer causing chemicals for human beings.

In Ghana and other African countries, the healthcare sector is an important source of UPOPS and mercury releases into the environment. This is as a result of lack of appropriate strategies, poor implementation of best environmental practices and inability to afford and use best available treatment technologies and practices.

To assist Ghana manage its Health Care Waste, the project, will develop the right regulatory framework and guidelines as well as find solutions to reduce the impact of the mercury-based equipment in Health Care Facilities.

Most importantly, the project will fit into Ghana’s broader pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by all countries under the auspices of the United Nations in 2015.

Speaking at the inception workshop, Dr. Edith Clarke a representative of the Ministry of Health said the problem of Health Care Waste Management in Ghana will be drastically minimized through the medical waste pilot project. She thanked the UNDP, GEF and WHO for selecting Ghana to part of the pilot project.

UNDP Programme Analyst for Sustainable Development at the Montreal Protocol Unit, Etienne Gonin said “with this project, Ghana can meet its obligations in both the Minamata and Stockholm conventions, which seek to regulate the release of organic pollutants and mercury into the environment.

Participants at the inception meeting included representatives from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Environmental Protection Agency and UNICEF.

Others were from the Environmental Service Providers Association, Zoomlion, Ecological Restoration Project, Disease Control & Preventive Unit, representatives from public teaching hospitals and medical institutions in Ghana.

The medical waste pilot project will also be implemented in Madagascar, Tanzania and Zambia.


This news article has been originally published on 29 February 2016.

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