Water sanitation hygiene

Health care waste

Hospital waste management in Nepal
WHO/SEARO/Vismita Gupta-Smith

Health care waste is a by-product of health care that includes sharps, non-sharp blood contaminated items, blood, body parts and tissues, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and radioactive materials. Poor management of health care waste exposes health care workers, waste handlers, patients and their families and the community to preventable infections, toxic effects and injuries. Safe management of health care waste involves three key principles: reduction of unnecessary wastes, separation of general waste from hazardous wastes, and waste treatment that reduces risks to health workers and community. Safe waste management is a cross-cutting issue and while it is being addressed as part of the global activities on WASH in health care facilities, there are a number of ongoing collaborations with teams working on infection prevention and control, injection safety, immunizations, chemicals, energy, and emergencies.

WHO activities in this area include:

  • developing technical guidance materials for assessing the quantities and types of waste produced in different facilities;
  • creating national policies and action plans, and developing national health care waste management guidelines; and
  • building capacity at national level to enhance the way health care waste is dealt with in low-income countries.

Further information

See also