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OPINION: The Menace Of A Country Littered With Used Masks; The New Challenge of Covid

"By our bad habits, we spoil our sacred river banks and furnish excellent breeding grounds for flies with the result that the very flies which through our criminal negligence settle upon uncovered nightsoil defile our bodies after we have bathed. A small spade is the means of salvation from a great nuisance. Leaving night soil, cleaning the nose or spitting on the road is a sin against God as well as humanity and betrays a sad want of consideration for others. The man who does not cover his waste deserves a heavy penalty, even if he lives in the forest"-Mahatma Gandhi.

Without a doubt, Covid-19 will define the year 2020. One of the worst in recent memory! Like it or not, the Virus has altered our way of life forever and as a people, we will have to adapt to the new realities. With the pandemic came the protocols meant to contain and ward it off.washing and sanitizing of hands, with the wearing of masks being the most prominent. The focuses of this article however are about masks and their disposal.

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As I move around the city of Accra daily, I come across streets littered with used masks, something that clearly qualifies as an eyesore. One wonders if our leaders, especially the authorities at the Ministry of health ever took into consideration what would become of used masks even as they advocated for its use.

I am not a health professional but from a purely environmental protection point of view, I believe our city authorities need to pay attention to this new menace. The spectre of a country littered with used masks can certainly not advance our ambitions of becoming the cleanest city in Africa.

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A country already battling with the disposal of plastic waste cannot afford to add the littering of the environment with masks to its waste problems. The National Commission for Civic Education also has it's work cut out for it.together with the environmental protection agencies, an intensive educational campaign could be mounted to educate people, especially in the rural areas on ideal ways of disposing masks through public address systems and adverts within the electronic and print media.

On the other hand, a collaborative effort between waste collection agency, Zoomlion and the Ministry of Health could also ensure that our cities are rid of this menace, with a view to keeping the environment clean and safeguarding the health of the citizenry.

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The citizenry must also begin to imbibe the virtue of discipline. The countries we admire so much and aspire to emulate did not attain their status through wishful thinking!they bought into a vision of a progressive country and with discipline as their compass gradually strove with purposeful leadership to reach the admirable heights of a developed nation. Our lack of discipline as a people remains a bane to national development and the spectre of a littered environment is certainly a blot on our image as a country.

Cleanliness they say is next to Godliness, and that time-honoured adage must find expression in our actions.

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Credit: Rodney Tsenuokpor

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