Water Sanitation Health

Preparation of national health-care waste management plans in sub-Saharan countries

Guidance manual

Prepared by the World Health Organization and the Secretariat of the Basel Convention

The manual is the result of experience gathered over several years (2000-2004) in conducting technical assistance projects in a number of countries in the sub-Saharan region. It aims at identifying appropriate practices for health care waste management by providing assessment and planning tools applicable in most sub-Saharan countries of Africa. The document is divided into four sections.

The first section contains fundamental information people involved in health care waste management at any level should be aware of; definitions, characterisation and classification of health care waste, associated risks and basic protective measures for employees, minimum observance that any health care facilities should comply with, key management principles, sound treatment and disposal technologies applicable to each category of waste.

The second section presents the actions that should be taken as a first step to assess the current situation before developing a national health care waste management plan. The relevance of such a plan and the implementation of realistic, practical and sustainable solutions, tuned to the needs of countries, depends on the accuracy of the initial assessment.

The third section provides guidance for the establishment of a national health care waste management plan. It describes how to develop plans according to specific objectives to be used by the planning officers of the central, regional and municipal Governments to improve all aspects of health care waste management. Complementary to the development of health care waste management through sets of specific objectives, a holistic approach is necessary to address efficiently all the specific aspects of such a plan.

Finally the fourth section provides guidance to develop a strategy to implement a health care waste management plan at national and regional levels. It is important and necessary, during the implementation phases, to reinforce the collaboration between the central, the regional and municipal authorities to improve the health care waste management practices and to find out pragmatic solutions for their sound disposal.

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