World Health Organization (WHO)

Safe Management of Wastes from Health-care Activities

This handbook provides the first comprehensive guide to the safe and efficient handling, treatment, and disposal of all categories of hazardous waste generated by health-care activities. Although the major emphasis is on waste generated by hospitals, guidelines and advice are also relevant to wastes produced in health centres, research facilities, and laboratories, or associated with home care or treatment in doctors' and dentists' practices.

In publishing this handbook, WHO aims not only to promote a sound managerial approach and the use of appropriate technologies, but also to inform countries about the health risks that result from inadequate management of health-care waste. With these goals in mind, the book provides both an alert to documented public health and environmental hazards and a catalogue of the technical, managerial, and legislative options available for reducing these risks. All components of a waste management policy - whether at national or institutional level - are considered in detail.

Although recommended policies and procedures have universal relevance, the handbook gives particular attention to conditions in developing countries, where methods for the safe treatment and disposal of hazardous waste may be limited. With these conditions in mind, the handbook includes approaches for gradual improvements together with a catalogue of options for waste management that include both simple and highly sophisticated technologies. Throughout, photographs, lines drawings, checklists, tables, and step-by-step procedures are used to enhance the practical value of the wealth of guidance provided.
The book opens with a definition and characterization of hazardous health-care wastes categorized as infectious waste, pathological waste, sharps, pharmaceutical waste, genotoxic waste, chemical waste, waste with high content of heavy metals, pressurized containers, and radioactive waste. The health consequences of exposure to each category of waste are described in the next chapter, which considers the nature and severity of associated health hazards, factors influencing the likelihood of exposure, persons at risk, and significance for public health. Concentrated cultures of pathogens and contaminated sharps are identified as the waste items that represent the most acute potential hazards to health. Other chapters consider legislative, regulatory, and policy issues, and offer a step-by-step guide to the planning of waste management, including use of a detailed model survey questionnaire for gathering data on waste generation and management practices in hospitals.

Against this background, five chapters offer guidance in a range of specific practices and procedures for safe waste management. Chapters cover strategies for waste minimization, recycling, and reuse; good practices in the handling, segregation, packaging, storage, and transportation of wastes; a wide range of treatment and disposal technologies; treatment and disposal technologies appropriate for specific categories of waste; and the collection and safe disposal of hazardous wastewater. The remaining chapters discuss costs, health and safety practices for health-care personnel and waste workers, the management of spillage and other emergencies, basic principles of hospital hygiene and infection control, and training needs. The final chapter sets out a minimum programme of essential waste management practices considered suitable for smaller rural health care establishments and field hospitals in refugee camps and other temporary situations.
Authors / Editors:
CHF 72.00 / US $ 64.80
In developing countries: 50.40
Industry Type:
Health Care
Print ISSN:
92 4 154525 9

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