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A legal assessment of the impact of the improper disposal of medical waste in Nigeria

Empire Hechime Nyekwere


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) noted recently the importance of proper wastes disposal. They urged governments and other stakeholders to treat waste management, including medical and other hazardous waste, as an urgent and
essential public service to minimize their impacts upon human health and the environment. The disposal, as well as the associated
environmental and health risks of medical waste, are of global concern. Medical waste may be disposed of using different methods
that many countries have adopted. Still, such disposal needs to be done in a manner that neither the environment nor the health states
of people are put at risk as they are hazardous. In Nigeria, medical institutions such as hospitals, healthcare centres, healthcare research institutes, health care laboratories, and other healthrelated establishments generate a sizable amount of medical wastes.
These medical wastes pose health risks to humans and the environment if not correctly disposed of. This paper is an assessment of the environmental impacts of improper medical wastes disposal in Nigeria. The researcher made use of doctrinal research approach. This paper is divided into seven sections. Section one is the introductory part, section two gives a detailed classification of medical wastes, and section three examines the medical wastes treatment and disposal practices. Section four discusses the impacts of improper disposal of medical wastes on the environment, section five considers the relevant international conventions with medical wastes  related mandates, and section six talks about the statutory regulations with medical wastes associated mandates in Nigeria. This paper concludes in section seven with recommendations.

Keywords: Medical Waste, Treatment and Disposal of Medical Waste, Environmental Impacts of Improper Medical Waste Disposal.