Health and environmental experts in the management of pharmaceutical wastes have drawn the attention of the Federal Government to the presence of medical wastes in the bodies of water meant for peoples’ consumption, saying it could lead to epidemic.
The experts, who met in Abuja on Friday for a multi-sectoral dialogue on managing health-care waste and plastic pollution, also warned that scavengers could spread diseases to the public because they often came in contact with medical waste not properly disposed by some hospitals.
Convener of the Stewards of the Environment for Sustainable Change Initiative, Adiza Ujo, said the meeting was called after a research showed that bodies of water were being contaminated with medical waste, saying the management of the problem would require the involvement of environmental experts in the private sector.
She said, “We carried out a survey on the presence of pharmaceutical waste in water bodies and we are looking for ways of working with government agencies to tackle some of the problems we identified in the process of carrying out the research.
“We are also working with a group that is carrying out a research into 10 hospitals in Abuja on how they handle medical wastes. Medical wastes are ending up in places where they should not be found. The stakeholders on water body like Abuja Environmental Protection Agency and those in the private sector are meeting to see how to address the issue before it becomes full blown health problem.
“Scavengers in our society are the first people that come in contact with medical waste in dumpsite and they go on to relate with other people. We are trying to see how to work together to find a way forward.”
Programme coordinator of Heinrich Boll Stiftung Foundation, Donald Ofoegbu, said at the event that the problem had become a nationwide issue, adding that stakeholders and governments must come together quickly to avert the adverse effect of polluting water with pharmaceutical wastes.
He said, “We have to find a way of managing hospital wastes. Medical wastes are pollutants that have adverse effect on people and animals. It could lead to the breakout of epidemic. Studies on the presence of micro-plastic and pharmaceutical wastes as well as how hospitals manage their wastes have been carried out. The findings show that it could be a big problem.
“We have pharmaceutical wastes from fish farms, home and so on, how we dispose them is important. There is no imminent danger now but if not controlled, there could be.”