The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has supported the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital to locally produce hand sanitizers to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection in health facilities in Ghana. Through this intervention, UNDP has donated 11,150 litres of hand sanitizers (5,000 pieces of 230ml bottles and 2,000 pieces of 5 litres refill bottles, with 162 dispensers) to the Ministry of Health to support 21 key facilities playing leading roles in the testing and management of COVID-19 cases across the country.
The provision of the hand sanitizers falls in line with UNDP’s multi-pronged approach to support the national COVID-19 response by promoting effective health care waste management. This ranges from monitoring and enforcement of best practices, training of frontline workers, provision of reference manuals and logistics (PPEs and consumables) for health care waste management, to reduce risks and infections.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr. Daniel Asare, thanked UNDP for responding to the call by the President, His Excellency Nana Akuffo-Addo, on all stakeholders to support local innovations.
“For us in the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, this partnership is a demonstration of the capacity that exists locally in harnessing innovations to accelerate development. We thank UNDP for believing in our capability”.
UNDP is also procuring consumables and personal protective equipment (PPEs) for the Ministry of Health to promote effective management of medical waste in the selected health facilities. These include 200 big infectious waste bins; 200 small infectious waste bins; 40,000 small infectious waste bags; 13,000 large infectious waste bags; 1,000 sharps containers; 1,000 safety masks; 200 safety googles and 100 working gloves.
Thanking UNDP for the kind gesture, the Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Bernard Okoe Boye, emphasized the importance of safe and effective health care waste management, particularly amidst COVID-19 to minimize the risk of exposure to the virus.
“The management of medical waste has been a top priority in our health care service delivery, and this has now become more critical to ensure health workers and patients are protected sufficiently from the virus in our health facilities and in Ghana as a whole. We cherish our continued partnership with UNDP on health care waste management”, he noted.
To ensure a lasting impact of its health care response, UNDP is supporting medical waste management at different levels. At the policy level, UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Health, developed a briefing note for the National COVID-19 Management Team and relevant stakeholders on the importance of prioritizing effective health care waste management during the pandemic. UNDP has also simplified the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) included in the National Guidelines on health care waste management and produced about 1000 posters to guide the mainstreaming of best health care waste management processes in health facilities across the country.
In addition, the Health Facilities Regulatory Agency (HeFRA) under the Ministry of Health is being supported by UNDP to undertake monitoring on the discharge of infection prevention and control policies and protocols in about 800 health facilities in the Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions. The Accra School of Hygiene have joined the HeFRA team, conducting on-the-spot training for frontline health personnel on health care waste management at the various facilities. Also, UNDP is working with the Ministry of Health to undertake health care waste management and infection prevention trainings in quarantine and isolation centres in the country.
Ms. Gita Welch, acting Resident Representative of UNDP Ghana reiterated UNDP’s commitment to support the country’s efforts to effectively manage the pandemic and build a resilient health system, society and economy for the future.
“Our COVID-19 support builds on the results of the partnership that we have been enjoying with the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and WHO for the past 4 years, focusing on improving health care waste management in the country. We remain committed to this strong collaboration especially at these COVID-19 trying times for Ghanaians”.
The existing partnership on medical waste management with the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), has also resulted in the establishment of a Policy and Guidelines on healthcare waste management, as well as a modular course with the Accra School of Hygiene to provide certification programmes on health care waste management. Moreover, the medical waste project, which is supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) trained over 800 health personnel in the past four years and have provided autoclave treatment systems for selected health care facilities to adopt best environmental health care waste management practices in the country.
Beside healthcare waste management, UNDP is also working within the UN system, supporting the national efforts on risk communication including anti-stigma awareness creation, and technically leading the UN’s COVID-19 socio-economic impact analysis and response, to help Ghana fight the pandemic.