The Gambia Red Cross Society (GRCS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health through the Directorate of Public Health Services on Sunday held a two-day training on waste management and safety practices for municipal and health care waste handlers in Banjul.
The training, which was held at McCarthy Square was supported by the European Union through the Spanish Red Cross under a project dubbed- 'Support and strengthening public health and socio-economic systems' to reduce the impact of Covid-19 pandemic in The Gambia.
The training, which also seeks to target 160 waste handlers across the country, is designed to strengthen the capacity of waste handlers on waste management practice; to increase the adoption of use of PPEs; and to reduce the health effects of waste related health.
Dr Buba Manjang, director of Public Directorate at the Public Health Services at the Ministry of Health, explained that globally municipal solid waste generation has increased significantly over recent decades as well as toxic and hazardous materials within waste as the trend increases our exposure.
"If hazardous chemicals are not adequately collected, separated and treated it becomes toxic and hazardous, thereby generating long term and cumulative environmental and human health impact."
Dr Manjang indicated that without proactive awareness and equipment on how to handle potentially risky materials, household waste becomes hazardous and poses health risk to those handling the waste.
He noted that the way in which waste is handled matters profoundly and decision over which technique or method to apply can have long term consequences.
"There is an urgent need to strengthen the capacity of waste handlers to properly manage waste and safety practices. Adequate knowledge about the hazard of waste and proper methods of handling waste can result in safe disposal and protection of communities from Covid-19 and other related infections." he stated.
Omar T.D. Ndow, branch manager at Banjul Red Cross Branch said waste handlers are exposed to a lot of risks, saying when most of them grow old or retire, they die shortly due to the risks they are exposed to without enjoying their retirement benefits.
"It is our collective responsibility to provide waste handlers with protective gears to ensure they fully deliver. Mr Ndow also said that it is critical that regular health checkups are also made available for them."
Ebrima Jabbi, health officer at The Gambia Red Cross Society said 'if waste is not managed well it can cause harm to people.'
The Red Cross movement, he added, is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being.