The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) has sensitised stakeholders in environment and health sectors on guidelines for proper handling of infectious waste and used chemicals within the context of COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Babatunde Adigun, the State Coordinator of NESREA Kogi State Field Office, while addressing participants on Sunday, April 26, 2020 in Lokoja, the state capital, said the sensitisation programme was prompted by the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic and the associated environmental and health hazards.
He said the programme would also help stakeholders to handle hazards that might result from the use of chemicals for fumigation and indiscriminate disposal of used Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
According to him, NESREA was established to ensure a cleaner and healthier environment; inspire personal and collective responsibility in building on environmentally-conscious society for achievement of sustainable development in Nigeria.
He noted that the agency was responsible for enforcing all environmental laws, guidelines, standards and regulations.
Adigun said that NESREA also enforced compliance with provisions of international agreements, protocols, conventions and treaties on environment to which Nigeria was a signatory.
”As we are all aware, based on efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic in generation of infectious waste and use of chemicals to disinfect surfaces.
”In this regard, NESREA has developed guidelines for infectious waste and chemical disinfectants handling, hence the need to sensitise all the relevant stakeholders,” Adigun said.
He noted that even though Kogi had yet to record or identify any case of COVID-19, there was need for prevention of the pandemic.
He, therefore, enjoined the stakeholders to collaborate with NESREA in mitigating the flagrant pollution of the environment and enforcing the extant laws, regulations, policies and guidelines.
Earlier, while declaring the event open, Kogi State Commissioner for Environment, Mr Victor Omofaiye, commended the agency for the initiative, as it was very timely.
He noted that the rate of spread of the dreaded COVID-19 was becoming worrisome, saying that even though Kogi had yet to record any case, all the surrounding states had been affected.
”We do not pray to record any COVID-19 case in Kogi but all hands are on deck to ensure that we nip it in the bud in case of eventuality.
”We must strictly adhere to all the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus into Kogi,” he said.
Omofaiye assured the agency of the support of his ministry and the state government in carrying out their mandate in the state.
Two paper presentations were made on ”Guidelines for Handling Infectious Waste within the Context of COVID-19” and ”Guidelines for Handling Chemicals Used for Disinfectant Surfaces Against COVID-19”.
Some of the stakeholders at the programme include representativesn of the state Ministries of Health and Environment, medical and media practitioners, as well as civil society organisations (CSOs).
By Stephen Adeleye