BGF in Nicaragua: Managing Medical Waste in Siuna

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Children in Nicaragua are safer thanks to collaboration between Charlottesville's Building Goodness Foundation and the University of Virginia. The two are putting a waste management system in place at the Carlos Centeno Primary Hospital, but the work doesn't end there. NBC29's Henry Graff is traveling with them and is reporting on the trip all week.

Siuna is facing a waste management epidemic and it all starts at the hospital.

"The hospital is 11 years old and so far it really doesn't have a place specifically to handle the waste," said Dr. Aldo José Centeno of the Carlos Centeno Primary Hospital. "This as a great opportunity to work together because waste of this sort is a problem for all society."

Biological waste, hypodermic needles and just about everything else is thrown out unbagged just feet from the building itself.  Children playing at a landfill that is full of unknowns is a battle for the town.

Garrick Louis, UVA associate professor of systems engineering, stated, "Members of the community are not that aware of the dangers of playing or walking around on the ground where there are hypodermic needles and other dangerous things."

Louis is leading the charge on waste management in Siuna with UVA behind him. The cleanup effort is happening in three parts. First at an incinerator BGF built at the hospital to burn biohazard waste. Second is a waste management facility under construction to take trash out of the field and put it under one roof. Third is to cover the trash once it reaches the municipal landfill to keep the kids away.

Louis said, "The final piece of it is to train the staff inside the hospital and outside on the grounds on how to manage different types of solid waste that are generated."

Louis says when dealing with developing nations, trash disposal is always challenging and hard to sustain. It involves a delicate balance of both showing and doing.

This trip isn't the end of BGF's work in Nicaragua; Thursday on NBC29 we'll explain how it's just the beginning of a new chapter.

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