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Is Medical Waste Disposal Improving?

Health care waste that is generated from healthcare activities can be divided into four categories, with general and nonhazardous waste contributing to 85%. The other 15% is hazardous material that may either be toxic, infectious or radioactive.

Each year, about 16 million injections are used worldwide, but not all are disposed off correctly. While healthcare activities save lives, the waste and by-products that come from them can put the same lives at risk.

Over the years, there have been efforts to manage medical waste disposal to create a safe environment free from pollution and chemical or biological hazards. However, these measures have not borne much fruit and health care waste continue to cause health risks for the public, patients and healthcare workers.

There are several problems that are a hindrance to the improvement of medical waste disposal. They include inadequate training and education in proper waste management, lack of awareness about the risks of healthcare waste, lack of waste management and disposal systems, inadequate human and financial resource and inappropriate waste management regulations in many countries.

The topic on waste management for medical waste has also not been given priority and the regulations have not been enforced in many countries. Hence, there is still a lot that needs to be done to ensure long-term improvement of healthcare waste disposal.

Some elements for improving waste management in the health care sector includes:

  • Increasing awareness of on the health hazards that are related to health care waste and the safe practices.
  • Promoting practices that ensure reduction of medical waste volume and to enhance proper waste segregation.
  • Coming up with comprehensive strategies and systems to improve waste disposal practices, waste segregation and waste destruction, and they should meet both the national and international waste management standards.
  • Raise adherence to waste management policies in hospitals and other health care facilities.


Ultimately, there is still much to be done to ensure proper waste management. Both the healthcare facilities and government need to put increased attention and diligence to improve medical waste disposal.