1 Department of Public Health, School of Health Sciences, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
2 School of Environmental Sciences, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
Poor medical waste management has been implicated in an increase in the number of epidemics and waste-related diseases in the past years. South Africa is resource-constrained in the management of medical waste.
A review of studies regarding medical waste management in South Africa in the past decade was undertaken to explore the practices of medical waste management and the challenges being faced by stakeholders.
Published articles, South African government documents, reports of hospital surveys, unpublished theses and dissertations were consulted, analysed and synthesised. The studies employed quantitative, qualitative and mixed research methods and documented comparable results from all provinces.
The absence of a national policy to guide the medical waste management practice in the provinces was identified as the principal problem. Poor practices were reported across the country from the point of medical waste generation to disposal, as well as non-enforcement of guidelines in the provinces where they exit. The authorized disposal sites nationally are currently unable to cope with the enormous amount of the medical waste being generated and illegal dumping of the waste in unapproved sites have been reported. The challenges range from lack of adequate facilities for temporary storage of waste to final disposal.
These challenges must be addressed and the practices corrected to forestall the adverse effects of poorly managed medical waste on the country. There is a need to develop a medical waste policy to assist in the management of such waste.
Keywords: Medical wastes, South Africa, Waste management, Practices, Challenges, Policy.
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