As part of the mission, the team visited hospitals practicing environmentally friendly health care waste management, particularly through the use of non-incineration technologies, thanks to support from a Medical Waste project being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Government of Ghana and the World Health Organization (WHO), with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
Explaining the objectives of the study tour, Ms. Pamela Achii, Health Products Management Specialist at the Ministry of Health in Uganda, noted that their country is planning to establish an integrated health care waste management system and it was considered important to find and use another country that has made significant progress in this area as a benchmark. Ghana, she said, became the natural choice.
“This visit came at the right time for us in Uganda as our health care waste management was found to be one of the worst performing areas in the health sector. We were informed that UNDP and the Government of Ghana have done a very good job in this sector and our Ministry decided to visit and learn from their initiative.”, noted Ms. Achii.
The team had productive discussions with the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service, who outlined Ghana’s policy and guidelines on health care waste management and the process followed to develop them. The delegation also interacted with the health practitioners at the Winneba Trauma and Specialist hospital, the Komfo Anokye Teaching hospital and the Cape Coast Teaching hospital and were enthused about the knowledge displayed on waste segregation and management.
“Most of the hospitals we visited have excellent technology and technical capacity. From the neatness of the Winneba Trauma and Specialist Hospital to the in-depth knowledge displayed by staff on waste segregation. We believe our government will be interested in adopting the processes followed by the project and invest in these technologies’, noted Victoria Nakiganda, Principal Technical Advisor of Management Sciences for Health in Uganda.
Commenting on the success of the study tour, Mr. Paolo Dalla Stella, Head of the Environment and Climate Cluster at UNDP Ghana expressed satisfaction on the interest garnered by the Medical Waste project in other countries in Africa and the opportunities it creates for South-South Cooperation.
“As UNDP, we are keen on building on our network and our role as a knowledge broker and a partnership facilitator to provide a platform to connect countries and share knowledge to have the best possible development impact”, noted Mr. Dalla Stella.
The Medical Waste project started in 2016 and is being implemented in four Sub-Saharan African countries (Ghana, Madagascar, Tanzania and Zambia). In Ghana, the project has provided 5 autoclave technologies to 3 hospitals and built the capacity of over 600 health personnel on best waste management practices. These hospitals have also been supported with mercury-free equipment as part of efforts to phase-out mercury use in the health sector.