15 March 2024

Tackling Medical Waste in Nigeria and Widening Access to Tertiary Education

The CSC is proud to share our 22nd individual impact case study. This is the latest in our ongoing series of case studies demonstrating the impact of Commonwealth Scholarships on individuals and their communities. 

Featured in this case study is Babajide Milton Macaulay, the recipient of two Commonwealth Scholarships. He received his first award in 2012, which enabled him to undertake a Master’s degree in Sustainable Environmental Management at the University of Greenwich. He repeated this feat in 2015 when he won a further Commonwealth Scholarship, this time completing a PhD in Environmental Geochemistry and Geomicrobiology at the University of Manchester. Since completing his award, Babajide has returned to Nigeria. He now works as a lecturer at the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), where he teaches Master’s level courses such as Ecotoxicology, Environmental Modification, Environmental Impact Assessment and Global Change Biology.  

In addition to his teaching, Babajide has been instrumental in the improvement of medical waste disposal practices in hospitals in Akure, the capital city of Ondo State, Nigeria. Working in collaboration with one of his students, he produced research that demonstrated that the present waste management strategies in healthcare facilities were unsafe and could pose a threat to public health. This evidence led to the implementation of the Ondo State Medical Waste Management Bill that was signed into a law by the Ondo State Governor in 2019:

‘Now, it’s actually prohibited for these healthcare facilities to dispose of [medical] waste together with household waste. So, that’s one achievement that I was able to get done, just by the knowledge gained from my Master’s study in the UK, which is the knowledge of looking for a contaminant in the environment, that is human-derived, and looking for a sustainable way of removing it.’

Furthermore, Babajide has established two education-focussed start-ups. The first of these, iLLUMANIA, was set up in 2018. This programme provides support and advice to students from low-income backgrounds who wish to apply for study abroad Scholarship schemes. Over the last 5 years, the information and guidance provided by iLLUMANIA has enabled more than 80 students to secure international scholarships.  

Babajide says that iLLUMANIA’s work is the most significant change that he brought about in his community through the Commonwealth Scholarships:

‘Before creating iLLUMANIA, a platform that provides sufficient international postgraduate scholarship guidance, Nigerian students, and graduates, particularly from the Southwest, were unaware of fully funded international postgraduate scholarships and hardly applied for such opportunities… Since 2018 to date, graduates of Nigerian universities applying for Master’s/PhD scholarships abroad have probably tripled, and more than half of them are winning international scholarships at first or second attempt.’

Babajide is awarded the Most Outstanding Start-up certificate award for leading the Wadi team to first place at the Technology, Entrepreneurship and Design (TED) Lab Start-up pitch competition at the Nigerian University of Technology and Management (NUTM) in 2022.

Babajide is receives an award for leading the Wadi team to first place at the Technology, Entrepreneurship and Design (TED) Lab Start-up pitch competition at the Nigerian University of Technology and Management (NUTM) in 2022.

More recently, Babajide has established his second start-up: Wadi. This platform connects African researchers to the technology and resources that they need to complete their research work. Often, researchers in Nigeria face difficulties in locating appropriate lab resources in their locality, as the availability of equipment is primarily shared through word of mouth rather than a centralised system. This lack of access to vital equipment has the potential to act as a barrier to research and development in Africa. 

Wadi’s geolocator tool – Send Sample – helps researchers to overcome this problem by providing a centralised system that can connect researchers to their nearest lab equipment. This enables researchers to more easily locate and access the specialist equipment that they require to complete their work. Furthermore, Babajide also recognised that although African researchers produce groundbreaking work, English language requirements often posed a barrier to the publication of their work. Wadi overcomes this through PublishIt, which supports researchers to rework their writeups, converting them into publishable manuscripts.  

Babajide’s work contributes to multiple CSC Development themes: science and technology for development; strengthening health systems and capacity; promoting innovation and entrepreneurship; and access, inclusion, and opportunity. Furthermore, his work supports multiple UN Sustainable Development Goals including SDG 4 – Quality Education, SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities, and SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities.  

Read Babajide’s case study here.