Ethiopian Journal of Health Development

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Healthcare waste generation and its management system: the case of health centers in West Gojjam Zone, Amhara Region, Ethiopia

M Azage, A Kumie


Background: Healthcare service providers generally aim at controlling and preventing diseases such as communicable ones. However, in the course of activities, the generation of hazardous and non hazardous waste is a concern of an environmental risk to health care workers, the public and the environment at large.
Objective: To assess healthcare waste type, generation rate, and its management system in health centers in West Gojjam Zone.
Methods: Cross-sectional study was employed to estimate waste generation rate and evaluate its management system in ten public health centers from March 2007 to April 2007. Observational checklist, key informant interview guide and weighing scale were data collection tools that were used to characterize waste generation. Weighing of healthcare waste was done for eight consecutive days in each health center. Data were entered and analyzed using EPI Info version 6.04d and SPSS version 13.0.
Results: The daily mean ( ± SD) healthcare waste-generation rate was 1.79 ± 0.54 kg, which was equivalent to 0.035 ± 0.05 kg/outpatient/day. About 0.93 ± 0.3 kg/day (52.0%) was general and 0.86 ± 0.33 kg/day (48.0%) was hazardous waste. The mean healthcare waste generation rate among health centers did not significantly vary. Segregation of wastes and pre treatment of infectious wastes were not properly practiced by any of the health centers. Only four out of ten health centers used local type of incinerators, while others used open burning for the final handling of healthcare wastes. Biological wastes such as placenta were generally disposed and buried in nonwatertight disposal pits. Operational guidelines were not found in all assessed health centers. Nine out 70 (13%) interviewed healthcare workers had needle injuries during the last 12 months prior this study. Conclusion: The unit generation rate was relatively small in magnitude when compared with similar health facilities that are found in developing countries. The indiscriminate handling and disposal of biological wastes is a concern. [Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2010;24(2):119-126]
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