The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with its partners, launched a national healthcare waste management policy and technical guidelines document in Accra on Friday.
The two documents contain the policy framework on safe management of healthcare waste along the value chain in both private and public facilities to protect health workers, patients, the public, waste managers and scavengers from infections.
The policy was fine-tuned to enable it to respond better to international best practices in the management of healthcare waste to prevent adverse public health and environmental impact.
The policy and guidelines were realised through the collaborative efforts of the Ministries of Health; Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, and Local Government and Rural Development, with financial and technical support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The policy contains measures in the management of healthcare waste and includes waste minimisation, waste generation, waste segregation and packaging; internal and external storage of waste, and waste collection and transportation.
It also demands that waste, including contaminated non-hazardous refuse, is segregated from non-hazardous and infectious waste from source.
In addition to the above, recyclable waste should be separated from non-recyclable ones, while the identity of chemicals and waste must be clearly marked on all containers.
A Deputy Minister of Health, Ms Tina Mensah, said the WHO and other international stakeholders had established that 15 per cent of all waste generated in health facilities composed of hazardous materials that might be infectious, toxic or radioactive.
She said it had become even more imperative to safely dispose of healthcare waste at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other safety materials.
The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, also said the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the need to focus on managing healthcare waste as it could become a conduit for the spread of the virus and other infections.
He recommended that all health facilities must have basic liquid waste treatment facilities to prevent hazardous liquids from the environment.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, gave an assurance that as the implementing agency, the GHS would ensure the implementation of the policy to safeguard lives.
He, however, called on other stakeholders to come on board since the implementation of the policy was a collective responsibility.