Averda launches major medical waste disposal drive in Africa

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Waste Management
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Averda, a leading environmental solutions provider in the Middle East and Africa region, is investing heavily in the medical waste treatment sector across South Africa. The company underlined its commitment to tackling the medical waste issues and said it recently finalised its latest acquisition in the South African medical industry, thus “currently holding over 25 percent of the market share” in this highly specialised sector. It is widely known that waste generated by health care activities includes a broad range of materials, from used needles and syringes to soiled dressings, body parts, diagnostic samples, blood, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and radioactive materials, said Averda in its statement. Poor management of healthcare waste potentially exposes health care workers, patients and the community at large to infection, toxic effects and potential injury, and it also risks polluting the environment. disposal-driveAccording to World Health Organisation (WHO), it is essential that all medical waste materials are segregated at the point of generation, appropriately treated and disposed of safely – a recommendation that has begun its journey towards legislation in several African countries. Sharps waste, although produced in small quantities, is highly infectious. Contaminated needles and syringes represent a particular threat and may be scavenged from informal waste areas and dump sites and be reused, it added. According to the latest WHO estimates, needle stick injuries (NSI’s) with contaminated syringes caused: 21 million Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections (32 per cent of all new infections); 2 million Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections (40 per cent of all new infections); 260000 HIV infections (5 per cent of all new infections). Epidemiological studies indicate that a person who experiences one needle-stick injury from a needle used on an infected source patient has risks of 30 per cent, 1.8 per cent, and 0.3 per cent respectively to become infected with HBV, HCV and HIV. The results of a WHO assessment conducted in 22 developing countries showed that the proportion of healthcare facilities that do not use proper waste disposal methods ranges from 18 per cent to 64 per cent. These figures represent a stark warning that, in emerging markets and in Africa especially, medical waste needs to be appropriately contained, collected, transported, treated and disposed of, said Averda. Taking into account the fact that all GCC countries – Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Oman – are signatories of the Basel Convention on hazardous waste, the medical waste collection, treatment and disposal are no longer utopian concepts but necessity-driven ones: according to the latest estimates, “the GCC countries generate in excess of 150 tonnes of medical (hazardous) waste daily”, according to the company. “We take a more holistic approach to our growth and expansion – we identify new business opportunities, we extend our existing customer relationships and we also undertake a disruptive approach to conventional business models. GCC is an exciting place to do business and so is Africa. Both have an untapped potential in terms of their people and culture and we always strive to share our knowledge and business know-how to drive growth for and investment in the local communities and businesses,” said Heidi Ford, national operations & compliance manager, Averda Healthcare South Africa. Treating in excess of 600 tons of medical waste a month, and with a presence in five major South African cities, the company employs a workforce of over 2,500 people, having also recently expanded its operations in Gabon, Congo and Morocco.