Healthcare waste management: an important aspect to transform health services

Proper management of healthcare waste is vital since infectious materials present in the waste can infect healthcare workers, patients and HCF staff.

Earlier, Patabhar health facility in Geruwa Rural municipality was a very busy health post with second highest inflow of patients due to its services in the birthing centre, District hospital being the first. Later, basic health centres was established in every ward after the restructuring of the government, reducing the flow of patients to a certain extent. 

Despite being such a busy health post, Patabhar had two toilets and a small bio-sand filter which was not sufficient for all the patients, visitors and staff. With an aim to improve the WASH services in HCFs, WaterAid Nepal, with its local partner organization Backward Society Education (BASE) supported in construction of WASH facilities, develop WASH improvement plan and regular follow ups for its implementation, orientation on healthcare waste management, WASH training to the health staff and hygiene session in the catchment area. WASH improvement plan and its review meetings with Health Facility Operation and Management Committee (HFOMC) in each HCF plays a very important role for improved health services in the facility. The staff of the facility were trained to deliver quality health service to community.

Healthcare waste management was another big challenge and threat for the staff, patients and visitors. The facility did not have enough needle cutters, buckets and bins for waste segregation, disinfectants (autoclaving waste) due to which they were compelled to collect waste in available bins and despite knowing the fact that burning healthcare waste is not good, they used to burn all types of waste together.

During the WASHFIT orientations we identified the issues and made proper plans as well, but due to the lack of budget we could not move forward. Healthcare waste management (HCWM) training was organized in our health post and a HCWM committee was formed.

Health post In charge Mr Bhupendra Bahadur Shahi says, “The knowledge shared on Healthcare Waste Management training is very important for health staff. It’s surprising that in my career of 20 years, I was not aware about the testing indicator of autoclave. These are things which I should have learned at the beginning of my professional career.” 

He added, “After the orientation we know how to minimize the waste and segregate, how to disinfect infected waste with autoclave and recycle if needed. Such trainings and orientations are important in other HCFs as well and it is possible only if the local government give interest to take this issue forward.”

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