23 February 2010

Nigeria: Unsafe Injection, Poor Medical Waste Management Fuel HIV, HPB Transmission, Say Experts

Two decades into the HIV pandemic, the use of unnecessary injections and unsafe practices are still common in both developing and transitional countries and is an issue even in developed countries. Unfortunately, Nigeria is not an exception.

Chief Executive Action Family Foundation, Dr. Emmanuel Okechukwu, says "There is an urgent need to use injections safely and appropriately to prevent nosocomial and HIV infections." Okechukwu said with injection safety, Nigeria would be sure of meeting Goal 6 on combatting HIV&AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases

Speaking during a training workshop for health workers on Medical Waste Management, he regretted that despite dangers posed by unsafe injections and poor medical waste management, medical waste management is not yet recognised as priority area.

"In an Abuja study, it was found that 18 per cent of health care facilities burnt their solid wastes in local brick incinerators, 36. 3 per cent disposed their wastes into municipal dumpsite, over 91 per cent buried their solid wastes, 36.3 per cent, None practiced waste segregation at source, co-mingling.

Again, result of a baseline survey by AFF for National Action Committee Agency (NACA) (HAF) three project in four states, Lagos, Ebonyi, Enugu and Borno showed that Nigeria still has a long way to go."

Regretting that there has not been segregation of medical waste from source, he alerted that there is need for people not to see injection as best option in time of illness except in cases where it is inevitable. Again, in such cases, people should insist on disposable needles as the world is now going on auto- disable syringes to prevent re use.

Reeling out occupational and environmental risks of waste management, burning heavy metals, mercury and lead amongst others could affect the biomagnification along food chain, via drinking water and agricultural products, he siad by affecting people adversely, it increases infertility in the society, also affects peoples' genes badly."

"Sharp wastes are most hazardous and highly infectious. World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2000 stated that injections with contaminated syringes cased 21 million HBV infections, 2 million HCV infections (40m per cent) and 260,000 HIV infections."

He advocated for use of auto-claved syringes in the country, beause they reduce risk by 80 percent.

In her paper entitled; "The Burden of Unsafe Injections and Medical Waste in Nigeria," Mrs. Henrietta Anadimma, called for proper segregation of medical waste rather than the practice of mixed waste without minding the risks posed to the society at large.

"This practice is no longer acceptable. The aim of the training workshop is to create awareness on how waste management should be done. Medical wastes are contagious and infections. They should not be mixed up with domestic wastes. About 20 percent of waste that is infections and 80 per cent that is not infection. There is no need co-mingling domestic and medical waste."

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