Written by on April 7, 2019

THE issue of unhealthy conditions and pollution created by incinerators located at health facilities in compounds is a serious matter which the Ministry of Health, together with the Zambia Environmental Management Authority (ZEMA) needs to urgently address.

We say so because the people living closer to these facilities have for a long time complained about being inconvenienced and affected health wise by the smoke and foul smell coming from the incinerators every time clinic waste is being burnt.

Some residents have complained of suffering from chest infections and experiencing skin rashes as a result of the pollution from the incinerators located just a few meters from houses.

The people at Lusaka’s Chipata Compound for instance, first raised this concern with the Ministry of Health and ZEMA last year but nothing tangible seems to have been done about it save for  the assurances which were made to them that the matter will be looked into.

The recent revelation that dogs are now ransacking the incinerators and feeding on the aborted foetuses is a serious matter which calls for urgent action by the Ministry of Health, ZEMA and other concerned authorities.

According to one of the effected residents, Mr Kennedy Makukula, dogs are now picking plastic bags, from the clinic incinerator, containing aborted foetuses to eat and spilling them in his yard.

This is unacceptable because it does not only create a health risk to Mr Makukula’s family and people around the area but also exposes the inefficiency and inability of the staff at Chipata Clinic to properly operate the incinerator.

What we know is that any incinerator operated close to where the people live should not be allowed to pose a health risk to them.

Every effort should be made by the operators of such a facility to ensure that it creates conditions that could not inconvenience the people socially and health wise. But that’s exactly what the management at Chipata Clinic has failed to do.

According to Mr Makukula, his family immediately alerted staff at the clinic when they discovered a fetus in their yard last week and they were promised something would be done to ensure the incident did not happen again. But it appears the promise merely ended in words because nothing seem to have been done about the situation.

Staff at Chipata Clinic, the Ministry of Health and management at health facilities where such facilities exist, should understand the possible health effects attributable to waste-incineration emissions.

It is an illegal action and a violation of the people’s human rights to expose them to potentially harmful pollutants by operating incinerators in an unprofessional manner.

Incineration of solid waste, if operated in a careless manner, as has been reported at some health facilities where this is done, can have a grave effect on the environment and on people’s health.

Toxic gases from the incinerators do not only pollute the air and water but also has potential to cause serious health problems in people that get exposed to it.

We therefore wish to appeal to the Ministry of Health to take action to ensure that the pollution by the incinerators, located at their health facilities, is lessened and that the inconvenience of such facilities to the people living nearby is minimized.

ZEMA should also ensure the facilities are regularly inspected to ensure that they are always operated in a professional manner.

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