Management of Medical Wastes: Public Awareness and Associated Health Risks
A study was carried out in 49 institutions involved in the provision of health care services in Morogoro Municipality, Tanzania. The aim was to assess the common practices with respect to the management of medical waste. Awareness of workers in the institutions on the public and environmental health risks associated with improper management of medical waste was also assessed. The results showed that the most common types of wastes include sharps, waste blood and fluids, and anatomical and pathological wastes. About 91.8% of the facilities separated medical wastes depending on their types although 77.6% of the facilities did not treat the wastes before disposal. The commonest method for disposal of solid wastes was land filling (57.1%) while for liquid wastes; most facilities drained them into the municipal sewage system (85.7%). Large proportions of interviewed workers were aware of the environmental (59.2%) and public (69.4%) health risks caused by improper management of medical wastes although some of them violated the regulations related to waste management. It can be concluded from this study that although the generation of medical wastes is increasing, there is still lack of health education on proper methods for waste management among workers in health care institutions. This calls for the need of awareness programmes and enforcement of legislation on proper medical waste management in order to prevent hazards and risks to the public and environment.
Keywords: medical wastes, environment, public health