UNDP and Basel Convention Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific jointly organize webinar on COVID-19 prevention and control

September 9, 2021

September 9, Beijing – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific (Basel Centre) jointly hosted a Webinar titled ‘Learning from China's Experience to Improve Epidemic Prevention and Control in Asia and the Pacific Region’. The webinar was hosted with support from the China Health Development Research Centre (CNHDRC) and Solid Waste and Chemicals Management Centre of Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China (MEESCC).

The Webinar served as an important part of an ongoing UNDP regional project to promote effective responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in Cambodia, Nepal, Lao PDR, the Philippines, and Myanmar, by improving medical waste management. The project, which is funded and supported by the Government of China through the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund (SSCAF), aims to share China’s experiences with other countries in the Asia-Pacific Region. Knowledge sharing under this project also goes beyond the COVID-19 response to look at how we can reduce people’s vulnerability to future shocks and overcome the inequalities in medical services exposed by the pandemic. 

With 160 participants joining from across the Asia-Pacific region, the Webinar provided a platform for International and Chinese officials, as well as experts and practitioners from the public health and medical services sectors to share their experiences and strengthen the regional COVID-19 response network.

Medical waste management is a critical component in containing the pandemic. The surge in COVID-19 cases globally has led to an increase in the production of hazardous healthcare waste for countries with, and without, adequate medical waste management systems.  Medical waste related issues still remain today and are placing immense pressure on medical systems as newer, and more concerning, waves of the COVID-19 variant have emerged.

During the webinar’s opening ceremony, Mr. Zhang Yi, Deputy Director General of the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges (CICETE), commented, “the Webinar and the project open a new chapter of cooperation between the Asia-Pacific region and UNDP as we work to overcome the difficulties in fighting the pandemic,”

“An important component of the Webinar was how to apply advanced technologies, like non-contact transmission and intelligent early warning, to help medical institutions reinforce their internal waste management systems”, said Xu Ling, Deputy Director General of CNHDRC.

Mr. Sun Shaofeng, Director of MEESCC reiterated that “Medical waste is contagious and toxic. Without strict management and appropriate disposal, medical waste is very likely to contaminate the water, soil and air and lead to the secondary transmission of the virus and exacerbate the pandemic”.

Mr. Li Jinhui, Executive Director of Basel Centre, expressed his sincere hope that “Basel Convention Regional Centres could make a greater contribution to the emergency disposal and management of medical waste under the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Equitable access to medical services and supplies is key to ending the pandemic, protecting vulnerable communities and getting development back on track,” said Mr. Devanand Ramiah, the Resident Representative a.i. of UNDP China. He promised to “work closely with all stakeholders for a resilient recovery, safeguard progress towards attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and fulfill our pledge of leaving no one behind.”

UNDP and the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific also will also hold another webinar today. Project countries will discuss the challenges to the COVID-19 response in Asia and the Pacific and provide an overview of  the progress and challenges faced by the project so far.