The Rivers State Inter-ministerial Committee on COVID-19 will partner the National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) in the disposal of healthcare waste in the State.
Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, stated this today when a NESREA delegation, led by its South-South Director, Mr Jacob F. Ayuba, paid a courtesy visit on the Inter-ministerial Committee in Port Harcourt, according to a statement issued by Special Adviser on Media to the Hon Commissioner
Ministry of Information and Communications, Soibi Max-Alalibo..
Speaking on behalf of the Committee, Nsirim, who is the Chairman of the Committee, stated the Committee’s readiness to partner with the Agency in ensuring that healthcare wastes which are products of the fight against the Coronavirus are properly disposed to prevent further infection of the virus.
According to him, the Committee “will be willing to partner with NESREA in designing enlightenment materials that would sensitise our people as it relates to the guidelines on disposal of infectious wastes”.
Responding to commendations by the NESREA boss to Rivers State regarding the State’s successful model of checking Coronavirus infection, the Commissioner explained that the success recorded this far by the State is the manifestation of the visionary leadership of the State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
“His Excellency is a very visionary leader: he was the first to close borders in the country, he was the first to sign Executive Order, and just a few days ago, he signed another Executive Order, which will now set up border patrol for the State, to compliment the efforts of security agencies.
“As a Government, one can proudly say that we are really putting in our best in the containment of the virus”, he said.
Nsirim, however, stated that the Committee will need a guide regarding the area of what assistance the Agency requires of the Committee.
“We’ll wait for you to give us content in this direction, so that in the next one week or so we would be able to develop radio/Tv jingles and maybe fliers that we’ll begin to give out to all the various stakeholder groups in the State. That is one assurance we’re giving you. We’ll also say to you that as a committee we’re open for more ideas in this direction. Whatever ideas you have as an agency, you can bring forth to us”, he said.
Assuring the Agency of the State Government’s support, the Commissioner said, “His Excellency has shown, as a leader, that he’s a man that is dear to our lives, a patriot. He’s giving all federal agencies in this State all the support they require. I’m sure NESREA will not be an exception.
“We thank you for coming, and we’re looking forward to working together to make Rivers State safe, because His Excellency’s goal this period is to make Rivers State safe for everybody living and doing business here”, the information boss stated.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the NESREA helmsman had explained that the reason for their visit was to commend the Committee and the State Government over steps taken so far to prevent Coronavirus infection in the State, and to compliment efforts being made with guidelines for healthcare waste disposal.
“Our DG said we should come and commend you, and also encourage you to do more. This is because, from our mandate we want to ensure that all necessary regulations and laws are complied with, especially when it comes to sanitation issues”, he said.
“The purpose we’re here is just to let you know the guidelines. We have draft on regulation of healthcare waste, a regulation that is national. It’s still in draft form..With the COVID-19 ravaging the whole world, the agency felt we should quickly come out with some guidelines, seeing what has been happening around us”, he stated.
He stated further that in disposing infectious wastes arising from COVID-19, “…we observed that these healthcare wastes have not been properly disposed of. We also found out that most of the healthcare waste managers are not properly kitted with appropriate Personal Protectives. It’s for this purpose that the agency came up with a draft on safety infectious waste, coupled with another guideline that is very germain too”.
In addition, Ayuba noted increasing manufacture of hand sanitizers by those who are not knowledgeable in the chemical components therein, and in the process come up with inflammable sanitizers that have proven to be hazardous.
“Consequently, we felt that people using chemicals as disinfectants should be properly guided both in usage, and handling, and at the end of the day, how they dispose of these wastes arising from using.
“It has to be properly discharged in a containment, not just being discharged anyhow. This is why the agency came up with specific guidelines on how these healthcare wastes can be properly disposed of”, he said.
Highlight of the occasion was presentation of a copy of the guidelines for healthcare waste disposal to the Honourable Commissioner.
Other members of the committee present were the Commissioners of Environment, Dr Igbiks Tamuno, and his Chieftaincy and Community Affairs counterpart, Barr Olisa Elloka Tasie-Amadi.
The NESREA delegation also included the State Coordinator, Mr Jonathan Dajal; Head, Air Pollution Control and Sanitation, Mrs Ibiene Iwuoha; Head, Public Affairs, Mrs Bio Ikuru; Head, Air Pollution and Vehicular Emissions, Mr Earnest Uwakwe; and Scientific Officer, Mr Chinedu Kelechi.