The provision of healthcare generates waste which can be detrimental to health and the environment. Management of healthcare waste is still a challenge in developing countries as practices, capacities and policies on waste disposal are grossly inadequate and require intensification. With the growing trend of biomedical services in Kumbo Cameroon, the medical waste management practices in this area was investigated to generate data that could guide policy in planning for an effective and sustainable waste management program. A qualitative cross sectional study was conducted in 30 of the 52 health facilities in study area. Participating facilities were selected by convenience sampling and personnel by random sampling. Data was collected using questionnaires, interviews and direct field observations and results analyzed using SPSS V 17.0. P-values <0.05 were considered significant. Participants aware of the existence of a national policy guide on waste management were mostly administrators (66.7%). Only 2 (6.6%) health facilities had a copy of this document. None of the participating facilities kept records of their medical waste management practices. All participants were aware of the health risk of healthcare waste. Use of PPE varied among participants and was highest among employed waste handlers (EWH) (100%) and laboratory technicians (100%) while the lowest (69%) was among pharmacy attendants. Gloves were the most commonly used PPE. Most of the EWH (55.6%) used examination gloves which was inappropriate. Not all participants segregated or disinfected waste. Waste bins were not colour-coded and all facilities had appropriate safety boxes for sharps. In 86.7% of health facilities, waste disposal was by burning in pits located within 400 m away from the facility. These pits were not protected from scavengers. Only 4 facilities had incinerators and all did not meet the required standards, as none was equipped with a scrubber. Even after segregation at the point of generation, wastes were mixed at the point of final disposal. Waste management practices in study site did not meet standard practices. There is an urgent need for proper medical waste management in Kumbo East and Kumbo West to minimise threats to human health and the environment. Regular supervision and enforcement of policy on medical waste management is paramount.
Key words: Medical waste, medical waste management, disposal, Kumbo
EWH : Employed Waste Handler
PPE : Personal Protective Equipment
WHO: World Health Organization
NPG : National Policy Guideline
CMA: Centre Medical d’Arrondisement
OSHA: Occupational Safety and Health Administration
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