Deputy Minister of Health, Mrs Tina Mensah, has reiterated government's commitment to breaking the barriers and changing the narrative to address the health needs of Ghanaians.This, she said required putting in place adequate measures to ensure the safety and environmentally sound management of health care waste to prevent adverse health and environmental impacts.
Mrs Mensah was speaking at the launch of the review of the National Guidelines for Health Care Waste Management and the Health Care Waste Management Policy for Ghana in Accra.
The policy document was reviewed by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation.
It will be implemented by the two Ministries and their agencies in collaboration with the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
The review is supported by the United Nations Development Fund, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Environment Facility.
Mrs Mensah said it was factual to note that healthcare activities protected, restored and saved lives but, "often we fail to ask ourselves what happens to the waste and by-products generated during the activities."
She said the WHO figures indicated that about 85 per cent of the total amount of healthcare waste generated was non-hazardous, implying that the remaining 15 per cent was composed of hazardous materials that may be infectious, toxic or radioactive.
"Furthermore, an estimated 16 billion injections are administered worldwide each year, but not all of these needles and syringes are properly disposed-off after use".
She said the phenomenon presented health risks to individuals and the entire eco-system as a whole.
Professor Frimpong Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation said, healthcare waste was not exclusively generated only from health centres but included other waste generated around the environment.
He said there was the need for healthcare facilities to have liquid and other waste processing plants that processed waste before disposal, adding that, this policy when implemented will guide the country in finding solutions to the management of healthcare waste.
Mr Kwabena Poku-Asare, Chief Director of the Ministry of Health in his opening remarks said the launch of the policy was timely as the world was experiencing a pandemic.
He said the poor management of healthcare waste exposed the country's healthcare workers to danger and that the Ministry was committed to the implementation of the policy and to provide the necessary leadership to ensure its success.
Dr Samuel Kabah, a Director at the Institutional Care Division of the Ghana Health Service said one of the most important things in healthcare delivery was waste management, adding that the GHS was bent on implementing the policy to benefit the country.
Mr Kwaku Quansah, a Deputy Director at the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources said the rolling out of the policy document must be educative and include capacity building of healthcare waste management staff, infrastructure and logistics.
There were solidarity messages from the partner agencies who supported the review.
Healthcare Waste is the waste that includes liquid and solid, hazardous and non-hazardous waste generated from healthcare facilities and the environment.