Representatives from the European Union - Pacific Waste Management Programme (PacWastePlus) participated in a World Health Organisation (WHO) webinar on healthcare waste management where they reminded participants that any waste that had been in contact with a facility that is housing a COVID-19 patient or a person who has been exposed to the coronavirus, should be treated as medical waste.
Upon a request, to be part of the Webinar as panelists, organized by the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Cell of the COVID-19 Joint Incident Management Team for the Pacific (JIMT), The Pacific Community (SPC) and (WHO) in collaboration with SPREP, the PacWastePlus programme was represented by Mr. Bradley Nolan, Programme Manager and Mr. Lance Richman, Technical Waste Project Officer - Hazardous Waste.
The PacWastePlus programme team provided an overview of the existing programmes and strategies on healthcare waste management in the Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste.
Other panellists included Dr. Nasir Hassan from WHO presenting on essential elements of health care waste management in the context of COVID-19 and Ms. Margaret Leong the IPC Advisor for SPC.
The JIMT brings together international agencies and regional partners to deal with COVID-19 in the Region – coordinated by WHO Division of Pacific Technical Support (DPS).
Recently, under the Phase 2 COVID-19 Pacific Health Sector Support Plan, JIMT partners from WHO, IOM, SPC, UNFPA, UNICEF have been working on developing a detailed strategic implementation plan to meet the anticipated needs of the Pacific islands to respond to possible COVID-19 outbreaks.
The audience of the webinar were mostly infection control focal points and officers in the Ministry of Health from a number of Pacific island countries and also included environmental health officers and representatives of other relevant agencies who are involved with the healthcare waste management.
The PacWastePlus team also highlighted that an immediate response to Pacific island country needs, the programme produced a useful medical waste alert on how to manage COVID-19 healthcare waste to assist the effective management of healthcare waste during the current pandemic. It is an easy-to-read, practical guide for the Pacific setting with additional links to more resources.
The participants were also informed that the PacWastePlus and partner programmes continue to work with Ministries and Hospitals on long-term sustainable solutions for healthcare waste management in the Pacific.
The PacWastePlus programme is a 64-month project funded by the European Union and implemented by Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) across 14 Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste which is now in its implementation phase, will address both the cost effective and sustainable management of waste and pollution in the priority waste streams of hazardous wastes (asbestos, healthcare waste and e-waste), solid wastes (Organic waste, Disaster waste, Bulky waste and Recyclables), and related aspects of wastewater.