By Cherno Omar Bobb
The Gambia Red Cross Society (GRCS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health through the Directorate of Public Health Services on Sunday concluded a two-day training for municipal and health care waste handlers on waste management and safety practices in The Gambia.
The training, held at McCarthy Square in Banjul, was supported by the European Union through the Spanish Red Cross under the project support and strengthen of public health and socio economic systems to reduce the impact of Covid-19 pandemic in The Gambia.
The objectives of the trainings, to be held across the country for 160 waste handlers, are to strengthen the capacity of waste handlers on proper waste management practice; to increase the adoption or use of PPEs; and to reduce the effects of waste-related health.
Dr Buba Manjang, Director of Public, Directorate of Public Health Services at the Ministry of Health said globally municipal solid waste generation has increased significantly over recent decades and so has toxic and hazardous materials within waste as the trend increases our exposure.
He stated that, if hazardous waste is not adequately collected, separated and treated, it becomes toxic and hazardous thereby generating long term and cumulative environmental and human health impact.
Dr Manjang noted that without proactive equipment and awareness on how to handle potentially risky materials, household waste becomes hazardous and poses health risk to those handling the waste. He further said that the way in which waste is handled matters profoundly and decision over which technique or method to apply can have long term consequences. He also said that there is an urgent need to strengthen the capacity of waste handlers to properly manage waste and safety practices.
“Adequate knowledge about the hazard of waste and proper methods of handling waste can result in safe disposal and protection of communities from Covid-19 and other related infections,” he stated.
Omar T.D Ndow, Branch Manager of the Banjul Red Cross Branch said waste handlers are exposed to a lot of risks, adding that, when most of them grow old or retire they die shortly after due to the risks they are exposed to without enjoying their retirement benefits. He stated that it is our collective responsibility to provide waste handlers with protective gears to ensure they fully deliver. Mr Ndow also said that it is critical that regular health checkups are also made available for them.
Ebrima Jabbi, health officer at the Gambia Red Cross Society said if waste is not managed well it can cause harm to people. He added that the Red Cross’s purpose is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being.