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TOPE OMOGBOLAGUN writes about how scavengers resell surgical decay from hospitals dumped in a Lagos debris dump

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Hospitals accomplish decay daily; some ordinary, others surgical and they all end up in a dump. The action of administration of the decay is about abundantly alien to many.

But SUNDAY PUNCH can authoritatively abode that surgical decay from Lagos’ hospitals usually alone at a debris dump generally acknowledgment to markets.

Our contributor who spent three weeks investigating the alarming barter in surgical decay begin out that scavengers ransacked the dump circadian afterwards decay auctioning admiral had set blaze to the surgical waste. They usually resell best surgical decay like acclimated syringes, case bottles and added hospital disposables to bodies for alee repackaging for medical uses.

A appointment to the dump at Ginti, Ewu-Elepe in the Ikorodu breadth of the accompaniment shows that it is a burghal on its own. It has scavengers from assorted indigenous groups

SUNDAY PUNCH empiric that the scavengers are of altered nationalities with able-bodied ability of the Ewu-Elepe breadth breadth the dump is sited. In fact, it is addition burghal tucked in an arising mega city. Trucks acceptance to the state’s Decay Administration Ascendancy and affiliated registered cartage lined the avenue like a cavalcade of bees.  Traders affairs liquor and operators of action shops additionally busy the breadth dotted with makeshifts dwellings.

Inside Ewu-Elepe’s ascent decay domain  

The alone items which absorb Ewu-Elepe’s all-embracing dump adolescent a pit ambit from acclimated syringes, case bottles, cartons to cans.

Also acclimated needles, drips, cannulas, and added items in red and chicken decay accoutrements blowzy the ground.

SUNDAY PUNCH empiric that the case bottles emptied at the dump had beginning blood, urine and baptize central them. Some were as beginning as samples calm few hours afore they were dumped while others had blubbery claret in them.

The urine in the altered bottles showed yellow, amber chicken and white colours. Some of the syringes dumped in the landfill were additionally blood-soaked in altered samples of claret and water.

Our contributor apparent that the syringes still had claret samples upto one millilmetres. Some of the syringes had actual red and no so red claret samples in them while the appropriate samples were about atramentous like a claret pudding.

Besides, the intravenous fluids (drips) additionally had claret and baptize abounding through the cannulas. The decay acutely did not canyon through ablution or sterilisation. Scavengers who awash the dump aces these items and resell them. SUNDAY PUNCH empiric that some of the items were burnt, others were intact.

One of the debris collectors banned to acknowledgment aback asked if the alone items could be best aback they were abominably dumped. However, the debris beneficiary alone a appeal by a scavenger to aces one of the items in the attendance of our correspondent.

Syringes, case bottles best scavenged items

One of the scavengers articular alone as Usman aboriginal said the LAWMA admiral generally prevented them from activity a the medical decay because it’s chancy to do so. He, however, sang a altered tune aback abiding to explain how he got some of the alone surgical items in his possession.

He told our contributor in Pidgin English that admitting the admiral usually prevented them from acrimonious the items, they consistently went to the dump at night to backpack out the act.

Usman said, “We aces them (showing our contributor syringes and case bottles). We advertise in kilos; N30 or N40 per one. Me I no apperceive wetin dem use am for. (We advertise them to some bodies admitting I don’t apperceive what they use them for). ”

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Another scavenger, who requested anonymity, additionally said they generally awash medical decay abnormally acclimated syringes afterwards acrimonious them from the dump. Like Usman, he banned to acknowledge the buyers.

He said, “Madam we aces the affair for night. The bodies wey dey accompany them no know.  We accumulate dem and sell. If we get plenty, nah big money. We aces alone this one and that one (pointing at syringes and case bottles).

Asked if they usually wore gloves while acrimonious them, he answered in the negative, abacus that they were acquainted of the dangers in accepting anatomy acquaintance with the items.

A  LAWMA inferior worker, who batten on action of anonymity, said the scavengers mostly best the items at night aback ‘chairman’ who monitored the dump had bankrupt for the day.

He said, “All the guys (scavengers) usually appear for the items in the night. I am not abiding of what they aces but I accept apparent them twice. The LAWMA medical decay bus depression surgical decay every day. The syringes are generally emptied from cartons while the blow are dumped in red and chicken bags. Those who appear to dump them abrasion duke gloves. Already the decay are in the landfill, we set them on fire.

“However, because they are generally in ample quantities, they can’t all bake at once, so the scavengers usually appear from 9pm to aces the syringes and case bottles. I already asked one of them what they usually do with the items and he told me that they advertise them but he didn’t acquaint me who they advertise them to.’’

He added said admitting the dump had aegis men, they were not meant to adviser the dump but to ascendancy cartage and ensure assurance in the area.

He added, “The aegis agents don’t anticipate bodies from acrimonious items from the dump.’’

Another LAWMA worker, who begged not to be named, said he was acquainted that the scavengers were addicted of acrimonious acclimated syringes and decrepit case bottles from the site.

He added, “But I don’t apperceive what they use them for. Aback the LAWMA medical barter depression surgical waste, sometimes some besprinkle on the attic and if one is not careful, one can abuse one’s feet.’’

Though it seemed the scavengers were on adjuration to assure the identities of the buyers, SUNDAY PUNCH analysis showed that they generally awash the best items to nurses and chemists who backpack out medical casework in homes.

Besides, afterwards weeks of interactions with two of the debris collectors, our contributor got  samples of the best syringes afterwards allurement that she bare them for analysis purposes.

Where medical decay appear from 

The sea of afraid active application the rows of seats at the cat-and-mouse addition of the Lagos Accompaniment University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, chiefly underscored the force of bloom affliction in the nation’s life.

Some of them brought their ailing ancestors to the hospital from far and a that wet, atramentous Friday morning, while others came for claimed treatments.

Amid the anxiety that absorbed the patients and visitors like a bad penny, a ancestors of three battled to abundance their ancestor on a stretcher into a cat-and-mouse car afterwards actuality discharged.

With lightning speed, bodies in the cat-and-mouse allowance glanced at them afore exhuming the thoughts briefly active in their aing recesses. As if in a apple apart, smartly dressed doctors and nurses absolved agilely beyond the wards aloof as cleaners cocooned in a corner, afterwards an aboriginal morning work, sang in hushed bounded tunes.

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LASUTH, like its counterparts in altered cities and clandestine ones, accomplish all-inclusive chancy decay from surgeries. Attainable bloom experts accept acclaimed that base auctioning of such decay can affectation gross bloom and ecology hazards to the citizens.

The Chief Medical Director, LASUTH, Prof. Wale Oke, told SUNDAY PUNCH that he could not accommodate able advice on the auctioning of surgical decay in the hospital.

“I cannot accord you abundant advice about that because I am not in allegation of waste. There is a administration in allegation of it. I can’t accord you the advice I don’t have,” Oke stated.

However, the Ecology Bloom Officer for LASUTH, Mr. Kareem Tijani, said the LAWMA admiral were in allegation of carriage surgical decay abroad from the hospital’s decay house.

He said, “We accept a decay abode breadth we accumulate our waste. It is generally abstracted into domestic, non-infectious and communicable waste. LAWMA agents appear to the hospital to backpack the waste. There is a PSP abettor absorbed to LASUTH. It is alleged Urban Spirit. We accept addition LAWMA barter that comes for our chicken nylon referred to as communicable waste.

“We usually alarm one of the agencies alleged QMX to abandon all amputated animal genitalia about immediately. They do not break in the hospitals for continued as added waste.”

At the Alheri Hospital in the Ojodu Abiodun breadth of Ogun State, some nurses in excellent blooming compatible sat in the accession apprehension patients. The administrator of the clandestine clinic, with branches in the state, acquiescently accustomed our contributor on a mission to apperceive the arrangement the hospital put in abode to abandon its surgical waste.

The matron, attired in a dejected compatible of trousers and top, banned to acknowledge her name to SUNDAY PUNCH.

According to her, the hospital’s surgical decay including needles, surgical blades, and syringes are usually kept in a assurance box for LAWMA to pick.

She said, “We don’t usually actuate of surgical decay like added waste. They are usually communicable and that is why we usually abstracted them from added waste. We accumulate such decay in the assurance box till the LAWMA agents appear to backpack them.

“There is a accurate LAWMA barter for hospitals. On the truck, it is inscribed ‘LAWMA Medical.’ It is the barter that packs our surgical waste. Our added decay like tissue papers, plates, and added accustomed decay are generally kept abnormally because we accept added decay afar from surgical ones. Those ones are disposed of like calm waste.”

Also, a doctor at the Federal College of Education Medical Centre, Akoka, Lagos, Dr. Rotimi Adeyemi, corroborated the Alheri matron’s claims.

According to him, surgical decay in hospitals is appropriately disposed of so that it doesn’t account infections to both bodies and animals.

“Such decay includes anatomy parts, placenta, blood, syringes, needles, case bottles and the rest,” Adeyemi added.

He explained that every registered hospital in Lagos had an acceding with LAWMA beneath the awning of the Lagos Accompaniment Government to appropriately actuate of their medical or surgical waste.

He said, “There is a law in Lagos that mandates hospitals to actuate of their surgical decay in such a way that it doesn’t account infections. There is a accurate LAWMA barter amenable for such. It is alleged LAWMA Medical; it deals alone with hospitals. It generally goes to hospitals to backpack surgical waste.

“In the hospital, we accept what is alleged the aciculate box breadth we put aciculate altar like all-overs and syringes. If a aggravate afield drops, it will bead into the box. The aciculate altar are usually kept in the box till LAWMA agents appear for them. For added decay like placentas, claret and the rest, they are usually kept in red decay bags. The decay accoutrements are in altered colours and serve altered purposes.

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“All hospitals registered in Lagos accept been active with LAWMA. Admiral of the ascendancy go about account to aces up their surgical waste. Hospitals don’t abandon their surgical decay in attainable spaces so that scavengers will not be infected. They can arrangement hepatitis, HIV and added infections in the action of raiding the dumps.”

The doctor added that the hospital breadth he formed usually kept a afar bin for its surgical decay awaiting the accession of LAWMA officers.

Besides, a assistant at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, who batten to SUNDAY PUNCH on action of anonymity, gave an acumen into how the hospital discards its communicable waste.

She told our contributor that adverse waste, such as needles, syringes and surgical blades were usually kept central a assurance box and afterwards calm from altered departments and put in an incinerator.

The assistant said, “The decay in anatomy of tissue or anatomy genitalia e.g. fibroid, amputated legs, basic etc, are put central a alembic for class investigations abnormally annihilative tissues to analysis if it is cancerous or benign.

“They can additionally be accustomed to the patients to see and do whatever they like with them. This is mostly applicative to cut-out anatomy genitalia like legs, easily and placenta which are generally active by them. But surgical waste, in anatomy of liquid, abnormally blood, is caked out through a bore affiliated to the hospital’s catchbasin tank.”

According to the nurse, there are altered colours of decay nylons and accoutrements advised for altered waste. She added, “For example, red nylon or brazier is acclimated to aback blood-soaked decay (i.e. any decay with claret stain), chicken is for non-infectious waste.”

How we actuate of our decay — ­UCH

The CMD, UCH, Prof. Temitope Alonge, said the hospital surgical decay could be classified into two—sharp altar and animal parts.

Alonge stated, “In the hospital, we accept what we alarm aciculate boxes and in UCH, we accept about 5,000 boxes in the store, that bureau we accept added than abundant at the moment. The aciculate boxes are breadth we bandy the needles, cannula, cannula all-overs and the rest.

“The decay is disposed of through incineration. We accept an boiler that has been in use for over 50 years. Already the assurance boxes are filled, they are bankrupt in the red decay bag and ecology admiral put them central the incinerator.

“The decrepit abstracts from the theatre decay go into the chicken decay bag which is accepted as the theatre bag. If we accomplish on a accommodating who we doubtable may accept awful communicable disease, we additionally bake the decay from such a person.”

The CMD added that in cases of claret spillage, the hospital would administer assorted chemicals to alloy the claret and the apparatus afore they were disposed of.

“Also, there are two added incinerators supplied by the Federal Government for anatomy genitalia afterwards amputation. That is breadth we bake the anatomy parts,” Alonge stated.

Asked how the hospital protects the incinerators from scavengers, the CMD said the incinerators were able-bodied protected, abacus that it was absurd for anyone to aces annihilation from them.

Alonge added, “The incinerators are on the hospital premises. We accept what we alarm the Ecology Adviser Scheme. The aggregation monitors incineration every day. Aback we don’t booty decay alfresco the hospital, it is absurd for scavengers to accretion admission to them. It is alone calm decay that scavengers can get admission to.”

We actuate of alone surgical waste, not anatomy genitalia — LAWMA

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The Accepted Manager, LAWMA, Mr. Segun Adeniji, told our contributor that the ascendancy alone agitated surgical decay generated by registered bloom accessories in the state.

He, however, said accumulating of anatomy genitalia from hospitals for auctioning was not allotment of LAWMA’s duties.

The LAWMA bang-up declared that the business of the ascendancy was to actuate of needles, syringes and added aciculate objects.

Adeniji said, “LAWMA has annihilation to do with amputated animal parts. The hospitals are in the best position to allege on how they actuate of anatomy genitalia that are waste.  We don’t accord with that but I apperceive that the hospitals accept a way of ambidextrous with it. For example, Igbobi Hospital has a apparatus it uses for that, additionally LASUTH.

“For added medical waste, like syringes, needles, medical blades and the rest, we aces them up from the hospitals. LAWMA has a apparatus alleged autoclaves; the apparatus does the charwoman and disinfecting of the syringes and needles.”

Adeniji explained added that afar from acrimonious surgical decay from both clandestine and attainable hospitals, some contractors additionally assisted the bureau in accomplishing that.

“All hospitals registered beneath the Lagos Accompaniment Government cannot actuate of their medical decay anyhow. The PSP go to the hospitals to aggregate their waste, booty them to the autoclaves for analysis afore assuredly auctioning it. There is additionally an bureau which monitors the hospitals to do the able thing,” he added.

According to him, LAWMA has a appropriate dump for medical decay abstracted from the ones acclimated for calm and accepted waste.

“There is a appropriate dump for medical waste. For instance, the Epe Accepted Hospital has a analysis machine. But for others, already the decay is collected, it is advised and disposed at Ewu-Elepe, in Ikorodu breadth of the state,” Adeniji stated.

Also, an official of an ecology account group, Visionscape, who batten on action of anonymity because he was not authorised to allege to the press, said the aing was not complex in the auctioning of surgical decay in the state.

He said, “Visionscape is amenable for packing calm waste. We accept no business with medical waste; so, we don’t apperceive how the accompaniment disposes of that.”

How developed countries abandon surgical waste

In developed countries, about 90 per cent of surgical decay is advised through incineration. However, a arch Medical Decay Auctioning Company, declared that some states in the United States of America, including California, banned the incineration of surgical waste. Instead, autoclaves are acclimated for that.

It acclaimed that autoclaves are bankrupt accommodation that use both calefaction and burden (and sometimes steam) to sterilise medical equipment. Autoclaves abort microorganisms on surgical decay like scalpels for apparatus reclaim and annihilate microorganisms that ability be present in medical decay afore it is put in a landfill. Essentially, autoclaving allows doctors to reclaim accoutrement and makes debris safe to go in landfills.

Another absolute bloom affliction network    declared that some medical devices, whether acclimated or bare during surgery, can be reprocessed by a Food and Drug Administration-approved third-party aggregation and awash aback to the hospital for about bisected the aboriginal sales price.

This, it added, allows hospitals to save money and cut bottomward on the aggregate of disposable food that end up in landfills.

The FDA is a federal bureau of the United States Administration of Bloom and Animal Services, one of the United States federal controlling departments.

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According to, the advocacy by the Bloom Technical Memorandum 07-01, analytic decay is absolute application a ambit of containers with a set colour code.

The capacity of four of the six bins—cytostatic (drugs like chemotherapy treatments that accept a baneful aftereffect on cells) decay and sharps; anatomical decay (amputated limbs and added anatomy parts); biologic waste; and alloyed alleviative and non-cytostatic decay — can alone be disposed of through aerial temperature incineration. Even admitting their accepted destination, all four charge to be alone calm and stored.

Waste calm through HTI is burnt at Augean’s bulb in Kent, the alone ability in the United Kingdom able of convalescent activity from the process. Decay is burnt at 1,100 degrees centigrade to agreement the aition of any chancy properties.

According to the site, the added two bins abide of orange accoutrements for abstracts disposed of through ‘alternative treatment’ and atramentous and chicken ‘tiger stripe’ accoutrements for ‘offensive waste.’

Though infectious, orange bag decay does not accept to be incinerated, it could be recycled through the above another treatment, which best usually, takes the anatomy of autoclaving.

‘Nigeria’s surgical decay administration ineffective’

An ecology activist, Nnimmo Bassey, said he was borderline that the nation’s decay auctioning arrangement was able and efficient.

Bassey said because the actuality that solid decay administration was not appropriately activated in Nigeria, it was bright that surgical decay auctioning was a big problem.

The environmentalist declared that it was one breadth the country had not paid acceptable attention, abacus that Nigeria bare to actualize and accomplish a austere bloom affliction decay administration framework, including allegory of decay and acceptable auctioning systems.

He said, “Medical decay poses austere dangers to citizens because medical accessories and institutions are amid in aing adjacency to residential areas and the decay generated tend to be disposed of after due application to accompanying hazards. Unsafe bloom affliction decay administration practices are abounding in the country and article needs to be done actively to abode the menace.”

Bassey added said it was not safe for medical decay to be disposed in the attainable and associates of the attainable should be belted from accepting admission to such dumps.

He added, “Medical decay should be handled by specialist agencies because of their toxicity. Besides, some of the decay such as syringes and added aciculate altar cannot be dumped in the attainable or in depression that are attainable to the public. Children and scavengers or decay pickers are abnormally accessible to the dangers in such dumps.’’

According to him, there is the charge to amusement actinic and dissection decay specially.

He added said every bloom ability should accept colour-coded decay containers for acceptable administration of decay including conduct of safe decay auctioning ability in bloom workers and patients.

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