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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 187-188

Safe handling of healthcare waste: A priority public health concern

Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication28-Sep-2016

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, 3rd Floor, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Thiruporur-Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4958.191191

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Safe handling of healthcare waste: A priority public health concern. J Med Soc 2016;30:187-8

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Safe handling of healthcare waste: A priority public health concern. J Med Soc [serial online] 2016 [cited 2023 Jan 29];30:187-8. Available from:


Globally, sub-standard treatment of the healthcare waste has posed serious risk to the healthcare workers, patients, relatives, members of the community, and even the environment. [1],[2] The current estimates clearly suggest that almost 15% of the waste generated from the health-related works is hazardous to humans and environment. [1],[3] Further, regardless of the amount of waste generated per day in different settings, non-separation of the waste increases the overall quantity of the hazardous waste and eventually results in nosocomial infections, spread of drug-resistant microorganisms, sharp injuries, and environment pollution. [1],[2],[3]

Realizing the scope of the problem and its impact on different dimensions of health & environment, it is of immense importance that all stakeholders prioritize the concern of safe disposal of healthcare waste. [2],[4] Even though, successful strategies and experience is available from different nations, nevertheless the stakeholders were not very much successful in improving the outcome due to the existence of different barriers such as limited knowledge about the hazards associated to healthcare waste, poor orientation of staffs concerned with waste handling, ineffective legal provisions to punish offenders, financial & resource constraints, and lack of prioritization amidst the other public health concerns. [1],[4],[5],[6]

The need of the hour is to ascertain the precise magnitude of the problem and then based on the available evidence formulate specific strategies in collaboration with different sectors to rectify the problem. [2] A comprehensive strategy comprising of interventions like developing a waste management system, assigning specific responsibilities to different cadres of workers, allocating resources in an evidence-based manner, enhancing awareness about the risks associated with healthcare waste and safe disposal measures, and adopting safe and environment-friendly options to safeguard the health interests of people involved in collection, handling, storing, transporting, treating or disposing of the healthcare wastes. [1],[2],[3],[4],[5]

In addition, other measures like preferring methods such as autoclaving or microwaving over incineration, removing needles mechanically, systems for safe transport and storage, recycling sterilized plastic and metal parts, proper maintenance of equipments, can also be of great significance. [1],[4] Not only that, specific guidelines have been formulated by the international agencies to aid different nations in ensuring standardized handling of the healthcare wastes. [1]

In conclusion, safe handling of the healthcare waste is an important global concern, and it strictly demands for commitment from the national stakeholders to safeguard the interests of humans as well as protect environment.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

World Health Organization. Health-care Waste - Fact Sheet No. 253; 2015. Available from: [Last accessed on 2015 Nov 08].  Back to cited text no. 1
Doumtsop JG. Health care waste management: A multi speed development in the sub-Sahara African region. Pan Afr Med J 2014;17:305.  Back to cited text no. 2
Maamari O, Brandam C, Lteif R, Salameh D. Health care waste generation rates and patterns: The case of Lebanon. Waste Manag 2015;43:550-4.  Back to cited text no. 3
Toktobaev N, Emmanuel J, Djumalieva G, Kravtsov A, Schüth T. An innovative national health care waste management system in Kyrgyzstan. Waste Manag Res 2015;33:130-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
Joshi SC, Diwan V, Tamhankar AJ, Joshi R, Shah H, Sharma M, et al. Staff perception on biomedical or health care waste management: A qualitative study in a rural tertiary care hospital in India. PLoS One 2015;10:e0128383.  Back to cited text no. 5
Mosquera M, Andrés-Prado MJ, Rodríguez-Caravaca G, Latasa P, Mosquera ME. Evaluation of an education and training intervention to reduce health care waste in a tertiary hospital in Spain. Am J Infect Control 2014;42:894-7.  Back to cited text no. 6


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