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Medical waste management

In Benin, medical waste from health centres is often managed in the same way as ordinary waste. Health employees are often unaware of the risks linked with their poor handling of medical waste

2001 Available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Footsteps magazine issues on a wooden desk.

From: Appropriate technology – Footsteps 46

Testing and adapting ideas to meet local needs

by Illiassou Sabi Dera.

In Benin, medical waste from most of our health centres is often managed in the same way as ordinary waste. Health employees are often unaware of the risks linked with their poor handling of medical waste.

The Basic Hygiene and Sanitation Department (Direction de l’Hygiene et l’Assainissement de Base – DHAB) is providing training to improve the management of waste in healthcare establishments. This training includes five parts:

  • learning about the various types of medical waste
  • risks for health and the environment from current practices
  • good management practices and techniques, including the preparation of a plan for the management of waste within the clinic or hospital
  • safety measures for health personnel
  • the use of incinerators (we recommend our own DHAB type).

The waste produced in hospital environments includes biomedical waste such as dirty needles and syringes, chemicals, pharmaceutical waste, radioactive materials (from x-rays etc) and general waste. The risk from infectious medical waste is considerable – for example from the HIV virus and hepatitis B and from reemerging diseases such as yellow fever, tuberculosis and typhoid fever – and deserves to be given particular attention.

Incineration is the safest method of disposal for most medical waste. After incineration, the waste should be buried carefully. More information about the DHAB incinerator (in French only) can be obtained from

Dr Moussa Yarou Médecin de Santé Publique, Cotonou CSSP/Nikki Borgou-Benin BP 10 Nikki Republic of Benin

Details for non-French speakers of another useful incinerator (illustrated above) can be obtained from:

The Innovative Technology Centre, De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH, UK
[email protected]

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