Visiting Commissioner praises SPREP/EU collaboration in the Pacific

The successful partnership between the European Union and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) has been commended during an official joint New Zealand Government and European Union development mission to the Pacific.

As part of the official visit, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Mr Neven Mimica, formally handed over new high temperature healthcare waste incinerators to Tungaru Central Hospital (Tarawa) and Princess Margaret Hospital (Funafuti).

The incinerators, provided through the European Union-funded Pacific Hazardous Waste Management Project (PacWaste), will ensure that biohazardous waste can be treated in accordance with international best practice.

EU Commissioner
European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Mr Neven Mimica, at the formal handover of the new PacWaste healthcare waste incinerator to Tungaru Central Hospital (Tarawa, Kiribati). Photo: Courtesy of European Union in the Pacific.

At the June 4, 2016 formal commissioning ceremony of the incinerator at Princess Margaret Hospital in Tuvalu, Mr Mimica spoke of the importance of waste management to public health and the environment:

"In the whole Pacific region, the challenges related to the management of waste, due to scarce land resources, high transport costs and often insufficient equipment are often particularly difficult. The PacWaste project is meant as a contribution to solving the region's immense problems in waste management. It has already dramatically improved hazardous waste management across the Pacific, focussing specifically on asbestos, healthcare waste and, more generally, solid waste generated by households and commercial activities."

During his opening remarks, Mr Mimica praised SPREP for effectively delivering results through the PacWaste project in the Pacific region:

"As it was the case in the past, we are looking at the Pacific region's many technical organisations to provide the expertise and the know-how that are necessary to achieve our ambitious objectives. I would like to particularly congratulate SPREP for the high level of professionalism displayed in successfully tackling the issues related to the management of hazardous waste and in proposing, discussing and implementing viable solutions for their adequate management."

SPREP's Director General, Mr Kosi Latu, welcomed the Commissioner's remarks and congratulated PacWaste on reaching another important project milestone:

"SPREP looks forward to continuing our fruitful partnership with the European Union and to delivering further benefits to the health of both the Pacific environment and local communities. The PacWaste model of collaboration is a fantastic example of how we can support Pacific island countries and territories to address their pressing environment and development issues through genuine and durable partnerships."

In total, PacWaste is providing 26 high temperature incinerators to hospitals and health clinics across the region. Specialised healthcare waste management training is also being provided at 42 separate locations along with personal protective equipment, signage and secure storage systems.

This package of support will ensure that the region's key medical facilities are able to treat healthcare waste in accordance with international best practice, thus reducing the risk to human and environmental health.

PacWaste is a 7.85 million euro project funded by the European Union and implemented by SPREP to improve regional hazardous waste management across the Pacific. For more information, please visit www.sprep.org/pacwaste
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