The solution to dispose of masks and gloves

By Engineer Jacob Kudzayi Mutis

An Engineer is defined as a problem solver. During these trying times, the world is desperately looking for solutions to preventing the spread of COVID-19 also referred to as the coronavirus. Does Zimbabwe have a national strategy on how to dispose of the protective gloves and masks that are mandatory when someone goes to public places?

It is paramount for Zimbabweans to take up more rigorous hygiene measures. Unfortunately, during these trying times, personal protective equipment (PPEs) like disposable masks and gloves quickly become contaminated, and they should not be disposed of carelessly especially not littered in our streets, parking lots, where they will inevitably end up harming the environment because the pathogen causing COVID-19 can survive for hours or even days on different surfaces. Therefore, observing appropriate disposal protocols is crucial.

Following my discussions with fellow Engineers, a decision was made to come up with a solution to dispose of some of the PPEs that are currently being used to care for COVID-19 patients. The simplest solution is to use our current incinerators, which are mostly used to burn hospital waste. 

In Zimbabwe, the majority of our clinics and hospitals have incinerators and use incineration to destroy their medical waste. Incineration has been the main method for disposing of a wide range of combustible materials that constitute biomedical waste because it can significantly reduce the volume of waste material and it can destroy organic matter. 

There is now a need for the local authorities in conjunction with government and private institutions to come up with national disposable bins that will be directly taken to incinerators on a daily bases to prevent public contamination of the dreadful virus that has engulfed the world. Garbage collectors will be most vulnerable to the infection as they deal directly with waste on a daily basis and there is a need to automate the process of collecting the disposable masks, gloves, and other PPEs that are combustible. 

The solution to the disposing of the masks, gloves, and PPEs should not be left to the Ministry of Health alone. This disease is with us and needs collective solutions at each and every stage.

We kindly call on all our fellow engineers to come up with a solution that can combat the spread of the coronavirus. All contributions are important please call 0242 746821,  +263 71 326 3188, or emails us on [email protected]

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende