From Francis Owusu-Ansah, Sunyani
The Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr Francis Nyagbenu, has cautioned that permits of health facilities whose operations endanger public health would be revoked.
Dr Nyagbenu said: “Permits of health facilities whose operations pose a risk to public health could be revoked, as stipulated in the EPA Act 1994, Act 490.”
The EPA Director added: “Health facilities that are operating below acceptable environmental standards can also be suspended, or would not have their permits renewed when expired, as specified in the Act.
Dr. Nyagbenu gave the caution at the second workshop for 55 health care waste management staff, drawn from 14 municipalities and districts in the region, in Sunyani.
The workshop was organised by the EPA, as part of its environmental impact assessment in the health sector and health care waste management duties, and aimed at upgrading knowledge and skills in the area of health care waste management.
Dr. Nyagbenu asked the participants to “work in a manner that is free from any threat to the environment and the public.”
He added: “Improper health care waste management systems also impact the environment-degradation of environmental quality, soil, water and air pollution.”
According to Dr. Nyagbenu, a 2001 health facilities assessment in Ghana revealed that “management structures are below acceptable standards, and also pose a risk to human health.”
He said that drinking water can be contaminated by landfills if they are not properly constructed, adding that trenching of health care waste may also contaminate ground water, while leakage from poorly managed landfills can contaminate surface water.
The EPA Director advised that “to ensure the safety of waste and avoid contaminations, the public must use pedal litter bins,” adding that “everybody would be at risk if the environment is not protected.”
Dr. Nyagbenu noted that “external storage sites should be secured and roofed against rodents, insects and birds, which can spread infections to nearby houses, around hospitals, and again ensure that health care waste is not exposed to be accessible to scavengers.”
The participants were taken through the policy, legal and regulatory framework for health care waste management, impacts of inadequate HCWM and safety among others.
The participants were urged to operate with EPA permits, and also inform the EPA before embarking on any expansion project in their facilities, because any health facility that contravenes the EPA Act commits an offence liable to a fine, an imprisonment, or both.