Effectiveness of healthcare waste management interventions in developing countries

Ayika I Emenike, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Inefficiencies during the management of healthcare waste can give rise to undesirable health effects such as transmission of infections and environmental pollution within and beyond the health facilities generating these wastes. Factors such as prevalence of diseases, conflicts, and the efflux of intellectual capacity make low income countries more susceptible to these adverse health effects. The purpose of this systematic review was to describe the effectiveness of interventions geared towards better managing the generation, collection, transport, treatment and disposal of medical waste, as they have been applied in lower and middle income countries. Using a systematic search strategy and evaluation of study quality, this study reviewed the literature for published studies on healthcare waste management interventions carried out in developing countries, specifically the low and lower middle income countries from year 2000 to the current year. From an initially identified set of 829 studies, only three studies ultimately met all inclusion, exclusion and high quality criteria. A multi component intervention in Syrian Arab Republic, conducted in 2007 was aimed at improving waste segregation practice in a hospital setting. There was an increased use of segregation boxes and reduced rates of sharps injury among staff as a result of the intervention. Another study, conducted in 2008, trained medical students as monitors of waste segregation practice in an Indian teaching hospital. There was improved practice in wards and laboratories but not in the intensive care units. The third study, performed in 2008 in China, consisted of modification of the components of a medical waste incinerator to improve efficiency and reduce stack emissions. Gaseous pollutants emitted, except polychlorodibenzofurans (PCDF) were below US EPA permissible exposure limits. Heavy metal residues in the fly ash remained unchanged. Due to the paucity of well-designed studies, there is insufficient evidence in literature to conclude on the effectiveness of interventions in low income settings. There is suggestive but insufficient evident that multi-component interventions aimed at improving waste segregation through behavior modification, provision of segregation tools and training of monitors are effective in low income settings.

Subject Area

Occupational health|Environmental Health|Health care management|Environmental engineering

Recommended Citation

Emenike, Ayika I, "Effectiveness of healthcare waste management interventions in developing countries" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1474709.