Healthcare Waste (HCW) constitutes a special category of waste because they contain potentially harmful materials. The problem of how to manage HCW has become one of critical concerns in developing countries. A cross sectional descriptive study was carried out between June and September 2008 at a tertiary health facility (Teaching Hospital) in Nigeria with the aim of assessing the current practices and commitment to sustainable HCW management in a tertiary healthcare facility. The study approach involved the estimation of the quantity of HCW generated, evaluation of the waste segregation practices and determination of the knowledge of healthcare workers regarding HCW management. Daily waste inventory of each ward was carried out. A total of 52 health workers, including doctors and nurses were interviewed to determine their knowledge and practice with regards to HCW. An evaluation of the status of the waste management practice in the health facility was carried out using the following criteria: waste management (responsibility, segregation, storage and packaging); waste transport; waste recycling and reuse; waste treatment and final disposal. Results show that the average amount of HCW was 0.62 kg/person/day at the out -patient units and 0.81 kg/bed/day in the in- patient wards. The proportion of respondents who had received specific training in the management of HCW was 11.5% (6/52). The number who understood the importance of HCW management in the provision of safety to the public was 46% (24/52). The level of healthcare waste management practice was found to be 0 (that is, unsustainable). This paper has highlighted the pitfalls of HCW management in Nigeria, a developing country where resources are limited. The paper concluded by recommending measures to improve the HCW management practices in the country.
Key words: Healthcare waste, microbial infections, public health, waste segregation, sustainability.
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