UNDP, others call for applications

By Henry Uche, Lagos

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in partnership with EpiAFRIC, Reboot and Nigeria Health Watch have called for applications from concerned persons and corporate bodies to be part of a symposium (#Hack4COVIDWaste) designed to develop solutions that will combat poor management and disposal of COVID-19 wastes.

The symposium will be a hybrid in person-virtual and will take place at Ventures Park in Abuja from October 15 to 16. Technology enthusiasts focused on social impact innovation are encouraged to apply online by 24 September using the application portal.

From a statement delivered by the Communications/Content Editor, Nigeria Health Watch, Uche Nwagboso, the #Hack4COVIDWaste brainstorming session would address the issue of COVID-19 biomedical waste management aimed at creating a platform for health workers to collaborate with developers, business people and technology practitioners to develop viable solutions that will contribute to sustainable COVID-19 waste management in Nigeria.

According to the statement, submissions will be reviewed, shortlisted teams will be invited to participate. Selected teams would take their ideas through a design thinking process and pitching sessions followed by mentorship by industry experts to refine their ideas in separate breakout rooms, after which teams will have the opportunity to pitch their COVID-19 waste management solution before a panel of judges with the potential of making it through to the second day of the hackathon. Finalists will then pitch their refined idea to a panel of judges.

William Tsuma, Crisis Prevention & Recovery Advisor at UNDP, affirmed that proper disposal of COVID-19 waste was essential and needs to be addressed urgently. “Mismanagement of COVID-19 related waste can cause unforeseen knock-off effects on both human health and the environment. At the UNDP, we are pleased to support the #Hack4COVIDWaste to enable the development of homegrown innovative solutions, as the safe handling and disposal of waste is a vital element in effective emergency response”.

More so, Ifeanyi Nsofor, CEO, EpiAFRIC stated that the partnership was apt, particularly with the increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients and the recent arrival of vaccines. “It is of great concern to see the growing amount of waste generated from COVID-19 response measures, such as used facemasks on the streets and syringes/needles improperly disposed of in health centres. Therefore, this timely intervention, that will leverage existing talent in the innovation community here in Nigeria, will go a long way in helping to solve the management of COVID-19 wastes.”

Shortlisted participants will benefit from mentoring, training, networking, and other support to move their solutions from ideas to workable solutions.

They maintained that Health facilities and COVID-19 centres in Nigeria are facing immense challenges in the disposal of infected masks, gloves, and other protective equipment as well as vaccine-related supplies. These facilities often have a protocol for the safe disposal of biomedical waste, however, the poor handling of this waste poses a hazard for health workers, patients, visitors and communities around health facilities.

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