“Technology without borders” cooperated with the Holy Family Hospital of Techiman, Ghana to tackle the problem of where and how to dispose medical waste.
Technology without Borders’ goal is to provide people in developing countries with simple and practical technical solutions for their everyday problems. The non-profit organization works mainly with engineering students who volunteer to foster development by searching for simple and robust technical solutions, teaching local partners how to implement these technologies, and creating micro businesses .
In our projects we focus on water and waste problems, which are often the starting point of a vicious circle: insufficient or dirty water supply causes diseases, which leads to overfilled hospitals with large amounts of waste. Inappropriate treatment of this infectious waste is not only dangerous to patients’ health but can again lead to more dirty water.
To finally break this vicious circle one of our major projects is the environmentally friendly disposal of biomedical waste. There is no regular state-run garbage removal system in Ghana, which requires hospitals to store or dispose their medical waste themselves. Consequently, most hospitals either store the waste, which is hazardous to health, in containers or simply burn it outside, which leads to the formation of toxic gases next to the hospital.
In cooperation with the holy Family Hospital in Techiman, a Ghanaian hospital, we developed a waste separation system that lowers the volume of infectious waste, because the separation controls contact between infected and non-infected material. The non –infected material can be recycled or stored without causing environmental problems. Afterwards, we installed an incinerator to burn the infectious waste at temperatures above 900°C, which guarantees the destruction of all dangerous particles.
We are solving several problems “with one stone” with this project:
First and most importantly, we prevent bacteria from growing in hospital and its environments and thereby diminish the risk to patients’ health and decrease the pollution of precious water resources. Secondly, we separate out the “clean” waste, which can now be recycled and sometimes even be sold to create some additional income for the hospital. Finally, we create micro business opportunities by teaching local workers how to build and repair separation systems and incinerators to earn money.
At the moment Technology without Borders has finished building these environmentally friendly disposal facilities in four hospitals, which are located in Techiman, Berekum, Kpandu and Agomonya, and two further systems in two hospitals are planned in 2013.
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