Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development, FENRAD, on Thursday, October 14, 2021, witnessed a laudable innovation and initiative carried out by Rotary Club of Umungasi Aba, District 9142 towards ensuring a robust environmental health safety in the city.
The event was no other than the historic unveiling of medical waste incinerator installed at Abia State College of Health Sciences and Management Technology, Aba.
In his welcome address, Prof. L. N. Chigbu, the Rector, Abia State College of Health Sciences and Management Technology, Aba posited that the modern medical waste incinerator donated by Rotary Club of Umungasi Aba, District 9142 is a Global Grant project of the ROTARY INTERNATIONAL and it is a laudable initiative and the first to have existed in the College since its 1948 founding.
He said that the automated incinerator would ensure that medical waste generated from both private and public health institutions in Aba and Abia state in generally are properly disposed and reduced to a harmless state saving the public from health hazards in this era of ailments like hepatitis, malaria disease and even HIV and AIDS which could be contracted in the environment if there is poor and inefficient medical waste management system.
In her address, the first female president of the Club, Mrs. Ngozi Ekere, who was introduced by the incoming president, Barr Chibuike Nwokeukwu (SAN), said the initiative followed an all-important needs assessment embarked upon by the Club and was also a brainchild of Rtn. Obieze Adimuko who was a former State Primary Healthcare Board member at the time of intiating the Project While not taking the glory alone, Mrs. Ngozi Ekere extended her gratitude to Rtn. Azubuike Akamnonu whom she praised immensely for doing the paperwork of the laudable project and as well as other members of the Club who supported the project from its get-go.
She also commended Rotary E-Club of Greater Sydney, Australia the collaborator and partner for the funding of the landmark project.
Also speaking, Rtn. Dr. Okey Okonkwo DG 9142 thanked Abia state governor who was represented at the event by the Commissioner for Health while urging the latter to implore the former to increase his support for the Club saying that if the governor who is “a Major Donor Level 2 member of the Club” (one who has donated over $25,000 to the Club) increases his support, Rotary Club would do more.
He thanked the governor for delivering the goods and dividends of democracy to Abians citing ongoing and completed road projects and infrastructures still going on or completed under the governor’s watch.
He further noted that aside from needs assessment, the project, which is a groundbreaking initiative, followed due diligence and procurement process and would be sustained by the Club so that syringes, glass vials, sharps and even tourniquets coming from hospitals as waste are neutralised.
This unheard-of project – and first of its kind – which is a joint project between Rotary club of Umungasi Aba, District 9142 and Rotary E- Club of Greater Sydney Australia begun with a colourful ceremony featuring speech, Rotary Club convivial songs, presentations and opening remark climaxed when the Governor of Abia State, who was ably represented by Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joe Osuji commissioned the project amid cheers from the crowd after inspection with a special remark.
In his remark, the commissioner expressed delight and thanked Rotary Club of Umungasi Aba District 9142 for leading the humanitarian pack, urging people of goodwill and all public-spirited persons in Abia State to tag along the initiative.
He affirmed that the project was in tandem with the adminstration of His Excellency, Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu Ph.D, whose ultimate goal is to see that Aba and Abia State in general is restored to its environmental glory as one of the best-planned cities and states in the federation. According to the commissioner, the medical waste incinerator is “a succour” to the city as another incinerator had been installed in Umuahia, state capital, at Hospital Management Board by Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
He thanked the Club and urged sustainability on their part saying that when such projects are installed more in the state chances are that all toxic and harmful substances in the form of medical waste causing health disaster among residents and citizens of the state would be reduced to the barest minimum.
The College’s registrar, Elder Ibendiogwu B. O. said the College, on its part, said he would manage the project well. He also went ahead thanking the stakeholders of the project. After the incinerator was unveiled and tested before the guests, Barr Chibuike Nwokeukwu (SAN) said the closing prayer. Interview session followed.
Engineer Kingsley Ugochukwu, the lead engineer that developed the project said that all component parts of the machine were locally sourced barring the burner. He said the diesel-powered machine is in tandem with the idea of local content as it was locally fabricated and assembled by an indigenous technology and a made-in-Nigeria novelty.
Speaking at the end of the event, Mrs. Ngozi Ekere, President of Rotary Club of Umungasi Aba District 9142 (2021- 2022 Rotary year) said the project came under the global funding of Rotary Club International and that it covers three of the seven areas of focus of Rotary Club International which are: maternal and child healthcare, disease prevention and control and environmental safety and security.
To her, the project will go a long way in taking care of waste emanating from medical sector like needles, syringes and medical bottles. While speaking shortly after Mrs. Ngozi Ekere, Barr. Chibuike Nwokeukwu (SAN) expressed optimism that the project would be sustained by his incoming administration.
The legal practitioner went ahead to say that he owes it as a personal and official duty to ensure that he either betters the record set by the Ngozi Ekere-led administration at most or maintains the status quo, at least.
College Rector, Prof. Lawrence N. Chigbu who trained as an environmental biologist and medical laboratory scientist (Dundee, Scotland) said that as a “man of luck” and one under whose rectorate the initiative was carried out, he will do all within his capacity to see that the incinerator is maintained and manned always.
He further said that the College already have a crew on hand to operate the machine and urged hospital proprietors in Aba to feel free to come to the College and dispose of their medical waste.
Given the indiscriminate dumping and disposal of biomedical waste in Aba, FENRAD believes that one may well agree Mrs. Ngozi Ekere that for the installation of the incinerator or waste burner at the College a new environmental regime has begun in Abia state to manage Health medical waste.