Healthcare Waste

Chapter 8: Healthcare waste: Generation, handling, treatment and disposal

Other Internet and Print Resources

NOTE: Listing of a resource does not constitute USAID endorsement or certificationReferences and ResourcesResources and References


  • Safe management of wastes from health-care activities, edited by A. Prüss, E. Giroult and P. Rushbrook. Geneva, WHO, 1999, 228 pages. Available at:
    English (French and Spanish in preparation). Can be ordered from WHO, MDI, CH-1211 Geneva 27 (e-mail: Price: SwF 72, SwF 50.40 for developing countries.


This comprehensive handbook recommends safe, efficient and sustainable methods for the handling, treatment and disposal of wastes from healthcare activities. It addresses a variety of technical options, as well as organizational and policy issues essential in managing healthcare wastes. The handbook is targeted at public health professionals, regulators, and hospital managers and administrators.


  • Teacher’s Guide – Management of wastes from health-care activities, A. Prüss & W.K. Townend, World Health Organization, Geneva, 1998, 227 pages. Available at: English (French and Spanish in preparation). Can be ordered from WHO, MDI, CH-1211 Geneva 27 (e-mail: Price: SwF 35.-, SwF 24.50 for developing countries.


The Teacher’s Guide accompanies the WHO handbook on management of wastes from healthcare activities described above. It provides teaching materials (ready-to-copy texts for overhead transparencies, lecture notes, handouts, exercises and course evaluation forms) and recommendations for a three-day training course. It is designed mainly for managers of healthcare establishments, public health professionals and policy-makers.


  • Guidelines for safe disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals in and after emergencies. World Health Organization, Geneva, 1999, 31 pages. Available at: Can be ordered from WHO, MDI, CH-1211 Geneva 27 (e-mail: Price: CHF 8.-, CHF 5.60 for developing countries.


Practical guidance on the disposal of drugs in difficult situations in or after emergencies, in relation to armed conflicts, natural disasters or others. In such situations, large quantities of unwanted drugs may accumulate due to difficulties, mismanagement of stocks and inappropriate donations. The guidance provided consists of relatively simple and low-cost measures and is addressed to local authorities, healthcare personnel or other professionals confronted with these kinds of problems.


  • Vital to Health? Briefing Document for Senior Decision-Makers, 1998. World Health Organization/US Agency for International Development (USAID). Contact: WHO Headquarters, attention Mario Conde, CH 1211, Geneva 27, Switzerland. Tel 41-22-791-4374 or US Agency for International Development, Children’s Vaccine Programme, Office of Health and Nutrition, 3.07-037 Ronald Reagan Building, Washington DC 20523. Tel 1-202-712-4808, Fax 1-202-216-3702.


This document provides information on unsafe injections. It illustrates misuse of medical sharps, and circumstances that lead to misuse. The document provides detailed information about safety standards for disinfecting sharps and their disposal. It also addresses the choice of different kinds of injection equipment and the issue of waste management.


  • Healthcare Waste Management Guidance Note. Johannessen, Lars M. et al., Waste Management HNP Anchor Team. The World Bank, 2000, 68 pages. Available at:


A working document that attempts to synthesize currently available knowledge and information in healthcare waste management. It is meant to complement WHO’s guidelines and provide particular information necessary for World Bank projects. Gives attention to management and policy issues and technical background on particular issues in greater detail than the WHO guidelines.


  • Managing medical wastes in developing countries: report of a Consultation on Medical Wastes Management in Developing Countries, Geneva, September 1992. World Health Organization, Geneva, 1994. Available at: WHO/PEP/RUD/94.1. Unpublished document.


This report is concerned with waste management practices in hospitals and other facilities which are associated with health care. It promotes procedures and facilities to reduce the risk of disease transmission and the occurrence of accidents associated with such wastes. The main focus is on countries in tropical areas and those which are seriously constrained by the lack of financial resources and trained manpower.


  • Healthcare or Health Risks? Risks from Healthcare Waste to the Poor, Jenny Appleton and Mansoor Ali, WELL, Loughborough University 2000


Study considers relative risk of various potential adverse environmental impacts of healthcare waste and considers these in relation to people most likely to be exposed to risk focusing particularly on the poor. The report provides examples of good practice and suggests an overall strategy for healthcare waste management that stresses an incremental approach with attention to areas of highest risk.

  • Model Guidance on Health Projects Involving HIV Screening and Handling of BloodParaphrases an Environmental Assessment (EA) done for an AIDS surveillance project in the Philippines. Please note that this document is listed for reference purposes. The recommendations are obsolete.