Health care waste management in public clinics in the iLembe District : situational analysis and intervention strategy.
INTRODUCTION All waste generated at health care facilities in the past was regarded as hazardous and needed to be incinerated first before it was disposed. The purpose of this study was to investigate health care waste (HCW) management practices employed in public health clinics in the iLembe District, with a view of developing a HCW management intervention strategy. METHODOLOGY The study design was observational, descriptive, and cross-sectional. Data was collected using a structured individual questionnaire, which was administered to key informants from 31 rural and urban government fixed public clinics in the iLembe District Municipality. RESULT Thirty public clinics in iLembe district participated in the study. A total of 210 kg/day (0.06 kg/patient/day) of HCW was estimated to be generated in public clinics, 69% was health care general waste (HCGW) and 31 % was health care risk waste (HCRW). The district's generation rate was 0.04 kg/patient/day and 0.018 kg/patient/day, for HCGW and HCRW, respectively. The study found that HCW was improperly managed in the district. DISCUSSION The findings are different when compared to World Health Organisation norms and this was attributed to improper segregation of waste categories other than sharp waste, which was given special treatment. Factors such as the number of patients, size of the clinic, types of health care services rendered, and socio-economics status of the patient played a pivotal role in the waste volume generated. It is evident that no proper HCW management plan was being implemented in the district public clinics. CONCLUSION The management of health care risk waste is of great concern. There is a need for development of a health care waste management intervention strategy that must be implemented consistently and universally in the district. RECOMMENDATIONS It is recommended that a proper health care waste management intervention strategy be developed and implemented in the whole district. This strategy must incorporate training programmes and a waste management plan.