By Asmau Ahmad
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), says proper management of household medical wastes is key to stopping further spread of the COVID–19 virus.
Mr William Tsuma, Prevention and Recovery Advisor, UNDP, who made this known while addressing newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja, said mismanagement of COVID-19-elated wastes can cause unforeseen knock-off effects on the health of Nigerians and environment.
“Proper disposal of COVID-19 waste is essential and needs to be addressed urgently in the country.
“Health facilities and COVID-19 centres in Nigeria are facing immense challenges in the disposal of infected masks, gloves, and other protective equipment as well as vaccine related supplies.
“These facilities often have protocols for the safe disposal of biomedical waste; however the poor handling of this waste poses a hazard for health workers, patients, visitors, and communities around health facilities,” he explained.
He noted that this was why the UNDP in partnership with EpiAFRIC, Reboot and Nigeria Health Watch announced submissions to the” Hack for COVID-19 waste.”
He explained that, “Hack4COVIDWaste” will enable the development of homegrown innovative solutions, as the safe handling and disposal of waste was a vital element in an effective emergency response.
“A hackathon designed to develop solutions that will combat the issue of poor management and disposal of COVID-19 waste. The hackathon will be a hybrid in person-virtual event and will take place at Ventures Park in Abuja from Oct. 15 to Oct. 16.
“Technology enthusiasts focused on social impact innovation are encouraged to apply online Sept. 24, using the application portal. The Hack4COVIDWaste hackathon will address the issue of COVID-19 biomedical waste management.
“This is aimed at creating a platform for health workers to collaborate with developers, business people and technology practitioners to develop viable solutions that will contribute to sustainable COVID-19 waste management in Nigeria.
“All submissions will be reviewed, and shortlisted teams will be invited to participate in the hackathon.
“The selected teams will be asked to take their ideas through a design thinking process and pitching sessions followed by mentorship by industry experts to refine their ideas in separate breakout rooms.
“After the first day, teams will have the opportunity to pitch their COVID-19 waste management solution to a panel of judges with the potential of making it through to the second day of the hackathon.
“Finalists will then pitch their refined idea to a panel of judges. Facemasks on the streets and syringes/needles improperly disposed in health centers.
“This timely intervention will leverage existing talent in the innovation community here in Nigeria, will go a long way in helping to solve the management of COVID-19 wastes.
“In addition, shortlisted participants will benefit from mentoring, training, networking, and other support to move their solutions from ideas to workable solutions,” he added.
Also speaking about the hackathon, Dr Ifeanyi Nsofor, CEO EpiAFRIC, stated that the partnership came at an appropriate time, particularly with the increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients and the recent arrival of vaccines.