Ebola: Now, a machine to decontaminate infectious waste

Autoclave decontaminates used waste such as syringes, personal protective suits and gloves through several cycles of high-pressure steam and vacuuming

 
By Priyanka Singh
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

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Sierra Leone is taking every possible step to stop further infection from Ebola. In a fresh move, the country, with support from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Global Environment Facility (GEF), has begun using a new sterilising equipment to help dispose huge amounts of contaminated protective equipment and infectious waste generated in treating Ebola patients.

The eco-friendly machine, known as autoclave, decontaminates used waste such as syringes, personal protective suits and gloves through several cycles of high-pressure steam and vacuuming. The equipment requires electricity and water for the internal steam generator and a small drain for releasing sterilised liquids and steam. The machine is manufactured by South African company Mediclave.  

The highly infectious nature of the Ebola virus means that special full-body suits that health workers, burial teams and other responders use have to be sterilised, or destroyed after a single use. The device provides an alternative to burning waste in open pits, barrels, or inexpensive incinerators without air pollution control equipment.

“This is not just a massive step ahead in terms of helping medical teams deal with the Ebola virus and ending the disease. It should also be a best practice for disposing of medical waste in general,” Magdy Martínez-Solimán, director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP, said in an official press release issued by UNDP

Experts believe the machine will improve the quality of life of people who are living under the threat of Ebola. “It is our responsibility to help medical teams manage public health risks and the environment responsibly,” said David McLachlan-Karr, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP resident representative in Sierra Leone.

UNDP will roll out the technology to 11 treatment centers across Sierra Leone and plans to send some units to Guinea and Liberia, the other two most-affected countries.
 

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