By Peter Oliver Ochieng
A medical microwave shredder aimed at tackling biomedical waste from all the hospitals in Kisumu County and neighboring areas has been launched in Kisumu.
The shredder, which has the capacity to handle over 200 kilograms of infectious medical waste per hour, was purchased under a partnership deal between the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Government of Belgium.
Speaking during official commissioning at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH), Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o said that the availability of the shredder should now phase out the use of incinerators in tackling medical waste.
“With this technology, I am directing the county department of Health to come up with regulations that will retire the use of incinerators from facilities in Kisumu County,” said the governor. “In Kisumu County, let us do away with incinerators altogether.”
He said the equipment has been commissioned at the right time when the county, country and the world at large is grappling with proper disposal of waste, occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It has come at the right time when we are also trying to find the best means of handling medical wastes, especially the masks we use to protect us from COVID-19.”
Dr. Francis Kuria who is the Head, Directorate of Public Health in the Ministry of Health is among those who witnessed the official commissioning of the medical waste microwave shredder.
He said the machine has worked well and continues to work well in the country of origin (Belgium) and other European Countries, expressing optimism that it will also do the same in Kisumu county.
“There are best practices of the equipment in Belgium and other European Countries. It is being installed in several other countries in Africa including Rwanda, Botswana and Ghana. It is being brought over to Africa and other countries are taking up the technology,” said Dr. Kuria said.
As far as maintenance of the machine is concerned, Dr. Kuria said the shredder is in the hands of able and well-trained technicians, whose main aim to ensure it’s smooth-running around the clock.
“As a Ministry, we are standing behind the county to ensure the machine runs. Though we have handed over the equipment, we are going to ensure that that servicing is maintained,” he added.
The medical equipment costs about shs. 131 million (EUR 1 million). Kisumu is one of the 8 Counties to benefit from the purchase and installation of a shredder in the first phase of the project dubbed Medical Waste Microwave Installation.
Other Counties are: Kakamega, Kisii, Machakos, Embu, Nyeri, Mombasa and Nakuru.
The machine will be manned by a team led by Brian Erick Omondi, a technical engineer. He said the microwave shredder is environmentally friendly compared to incinerators.
“The incinerator releases fumes which pollute the environment within. On the other hand, the shredder has a conveyor which has sieves that prevent dirty smoke from coming out,” said the technician.
Governor Nyong’o indicated that the ash from the microwave shredder will be managed by transporting it to the waste management plant in Kesese, Chiga in Kisumu East Sub County.