Assessment of Healthcare Waste Management practices in Uganda.
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The increase in health care facilities in Uganda has resulted in an increase in health care waste (HCW) which poses a serious pollution threat to the environment and to the general public health. Improper disposal practices of HCW affect the people who come in direct contact with it. HCW can cause environmental pollution, unpleasant odours, and growth of insects, rodents and worms. HCW may lead to transmission of diseases like cholera, HIV, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and C through injuries from sharps contaminated with human blood. This research was conducted to assess Health care waste management (HCWM) practices in Uganda with case studies being taken in Kampala with a view of assessing the current handling practices, determining the different categories and composition of HCW and designing an appropriate HCWM system. This research was carried out at St. Francis hospital Nsambya, Mulago national referral hospital and Makerere University Hospital The satisfaction of the objectives was done through examination of the selected waste management practices. Sampling, sorting and weighing of the total waste generated per day was carried out for a period of one month for Nsambya hospital and one week for both Mulago National Referral and Makerere University hospitals. According to our findings, generated waste was put into three categories; infectious, non-infectious and sharps. Waste was dominated by infectious waste (63%-77%), followed by non-infectious waste (18%-32%) and sharps (3%-5%). Makerere university hospital generated 70% of infectious waste, 23% of non-infectious waste and 3% of sharps. Mulago hospital generated 77% infectious waste, 18% non-infectious and 5% sharps. For Nsambya Hospital the variation of waste generated ranged from 63%-66% infectious waste, 31%-32% non-infectious waste and 3%-5% sharps for different weeks in a month. It was also found that the total quantity of waste generated varies on different days in the different weeks for the case of Nsambya. For all three hospitals; waste handling practices varied slightly right from the point of generation to the temporary storage. If the results from our findings are adopted and recommendations implemented, we expect a reduction in the risk of people getting infected especially the on-site health care workers, reduction in threat to the environment and reduced risk of soil and ground water contamination. According to WHO, hospitals ideally produce more of non- infectious waste compared to the infectious waste. This wasn‟t obtained in this study due to the failure in hospitals to sufficiently segregate waste. There is need for adoption of a more economic and environmentally friendly healthcare waste management system as proposed.