Hannah Osei-Owusu is a Ghanaian environmental sustainability advocate committed on several fronts, namely medical waste management, promotion of organic foods and minimizing food waste. Through her organization « Superior Health Awareness Ghana », the Ghanaian nurse also brings free healthcare to the aged.
Who is Hannah Osei–Owusu?
I am an environmental sustainability advocate working in waste management, specifically in the healthcare industry. I am the founder of MedWaste Solutions Ltd and I am dedicated to improving the disposal of medical waste.
What has been your academic and professional career to date?
I am a registered general nurse currently practicing nursing with over 12 years of experience. My academic and professional career is focused on environmental sustainability issues within healthcare. I have a Master of science in environmental sustainability & management.
I chose this path due to my passion for both healthcare and the environment, aiming to reduce the environmental impact of medical waste.
What led you to launch MedWaste Solutions?
Growing up in a little town in the Central Region of Ghana, most of the mothers loved to stay up in the market till late hours. There was my next door neighbour whose mother would always leave him home alone for the market. One day, in his loneliness, he decided to join some neighbourhood kids who ended up picking up hospital consumables from a hospital dump site. Unfortunately for him, he had a needle prick which turned out to infect his whole arm, leading to an amputation and eventually his death. As a little girl growing up, I had many questions. Why would a hospital leave needles in a “refuse dump” but I never found answers. Fast forward my dream of becoming a nurse materialised. I got pricked by a needle on the ward and those childhood memories kicked my mind. Will my hand be infected? What if I end up like my childhood friend? I reported and did the needful and came out of the situation without any health issues. At this point, my promise of advocating for a safer working environment kicked in. Medwaste Solutions aims to solve all the Medical waste issues in Ghana and Africa at large.
The problem that this project seeks to address is the poor management of healthcare waste in health facilities in Ghana, particularly primary health facilities. Despite guidelines issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and Ministry of Health in Ghana, health facilities have not implemented efficient systems for segregating, collecting, transferring, or treating healthcare waste. Adequate awareness or knowledge about the potential consequences of healthcare waste practices of safety measures is likely to lead to the practice of safe management and disposal which will in the final analysis protect the environment and ensure public safety towards the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Ghana, notably health and wellbeing (Goal 3). However, few people have ventured in advocating for actions which ensure health workers have adequate knowledge about health care waste including practice of safe management and disposal.
What are the activities of WedWaste Solutions?
Our mission is to provide sustainable solutions for healthcare waste management in Ghana and beyond. We aim to equip health workers with the knowledge and resources needed for efficient waste segregation. We believe that by enhancing the segregation and disposal of healthcare waste, particularly personal protective equipment (PPES), we can significantly reduce the risk of infection for all stakeholders involved. We are currently targeting health workers for training on waste segregation. We are also assisting in the labelling of colour-coded bins to promote waste segregation. We are dedicated to making a significant difference in the way healthcare waste is managed, and we are committed to contributing to a healthier, safer environment for everyone.
What has been the impact of this initiative ?
The environmental impact of this initiative includes the implementation of waste segregation systems, which has likely reduced contamination and facilitated recycling. YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative) Regional Leadership Center-Accra has also applauded my works on Medical Waste and recently brought me on board for the Climate Tech Innovators Programme hosted by Yali RLC-Accra & sponsored by USAID, Gimpa where I shared ideas with 50 participants who came from all over Africa for training in Climate Tech.
You are also the founder of Superior Health Awareness. Can you tell us more about it?
Superior Health Awareness Ghana is an NGO bringing free healthcare at the doorstep of the Aged, especially widows, widowers and children. It was established in 2012 to create awareness to the general public on pressing health issues especially, hypertension, diabetes. We have educated over 2,000 people in Greater Accra, Eastern Region, and Central Region in Ghana. This includes corporate bodies, school, churches, organisations etc. As a way of giving back to the society, Superior Health Awareness Ghana currently takes care of about 300 widows, 50 widowers and 100 poor and needy children in the Central Region of Ghana. This initiative is highly supported by Hanalisas Restaurant, family and friends.
So, what is Hanalisas Kitchen ?
Hanalisas Restaurant aims to provide healthy meals using organic foods. Within the provided context, generally speaking, our restaurant’s catering services are made sustainable by sourcing local and organic ingredients, minimizing food waste, using eco-friendly packaging, and implementing energy-efficient cooking methods. For every pack of food sold at the restaurant, a percentage goes directly to the Superior Health Awareness Ghana fund which helps to take care of the widows/widowers and poor/needy children. By doing this, everyone who patronises the restaurant helps to put a smile on the faces of our senior citizens and children in the village.
What challenges have you encountered in your career?
The main challenge lies in financing the cost of the training materials, the purchase & labelling of waste bins & Polythene bags as liners for the bins, development and implementation of the waste. I have also faced other challenges, not limited to funding. Overcoming these challenges has typically involved persistent advocacy, education, and innovation to demonstrate the long-term benefits of sustainable practices.
What are your personal career ambitions?
Given my dedication to environmental sustainability in healthcare, I aspire to continue expanding my impact through advocacy, education, and policy reform to achieve a greener healthcare system on a larger scale.
Interviewed by Danielle France Engolo