UNMISS hands over much-needed new incinerator to Malakal Teaching Hospital
Patients and health workers in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state have a reason to smile despite the gloomy weather brought on by the heavy rainy season. A medical waste disposal site funded by UNMISS and constructed by the International Medical Corps (IMC) is now ready for use following its completion.
The incinerator was built as part of the mission’s ongoing support to the national-led COVID-19 response in the country.
“With the current stability in the Upper Nile region, many patients are seeking services at this hospital. This increased the volume of medical waste that the old incinerator could not contain sufficiently,” explains Hussien Farah Odowa, IMC’s Field Office Manager in Malakal. “So, we appealed to UNMISS for help, and they responded positively to our request.”
Malakal Teaching Hospital is an International Medical Corps-supported health facility and referral hospital that serves all 13 counties within the Upper Nile region. It is also one of many health facilities that were severely damaged during the 2013 civil war in the world’s youngest nation.
The hospital was renovated with the help of humanitarian agencies and the World Bank. However, until recently, it did not have a secure medical waste disposal zone, as the old one was unusable. The hospital desperately needed a new incinerator with trained staff to ensure it is used properly.
“This incinerator has come at the right time,” says the hospital’s Acting Director General, Dr. Ayuel Isaac Abiel. “We had issues disposing medical waste, but with this new incinerator, the hospital can safely and securely separate, collect, temporarily store and treat all types of waste before finally disposing it off, sharp, soft, organic and hazardous items. I am grateful to UNMISS, and our partner, IMC.”
The hospital operates 24 hours a day and uses two energy sources—solar power for the administrative block, delivery room, post-natal wards and maternity ward, and a generator that supplies larger operating theater equipment like anesthetic machines.
With the new incinerator, the hospital now has a medical waste disposal zone that meets World Health Organization standards.
Dr. Younis Johnson, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the hospital, says the new incinerator has relieved the facility of the enormous amount of medical waste, some of which was littered on the ground and a health hazard to both patients and staff.
“UNMISS’ support for this hospital is very much appreciated,” says Dr. Younis. “Trained personnel will manage this new medical waste disposal zone and guarantee patient safety.”
Currently, the Malakal hospital has a functional COVID-19 triage area, and seven healthcare workers who have been trained on standard infection prevention and control measures.
Part of the UN mission’s response has included the renovation of isolation wards by peacekeepers from Rwanda and India last year to prepare for any mass eventualities.