HCWH, as a proponent of healthcare rights and environmental justice, is mobilising the sector to help catalyse the transformation of society to a low-carbon, toxics-free system which protects us and our planet.
The African health care waste project
HCWH is partnering with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Health Organization in a project funded by the Global Environment Facility to disseminate sustainable healthcare waste management in four African countries: Ghana, Madagascar, Tanzania and Zambia. Starting in early 2018, project hospitals will treat their waste with autoclaves manufactured in South Africa and designed specifically for the African situation. Hospitals will also substitute mercury-containing medical devices, develop recycling programs and one will establish a biodigester to dispose of food waste and pathological waste. The project builds on the success of a previous one which improved healthcare waste management in seven countries in Africa, Asia and South America.
Database of health care waste treatment technologies
To facilitate the use of non-incineration technologies, and help staff responsible for procuring healthcare waste treatment technologies to identify alternatives to incinerators, HCWH has created a Global Database of Healthcare Waste Treatment Technologies. The Database provides listings of suppliers from around the world of the most widely applied technologies, such as autoclaves, different steam and heat based technologies, and chemical based technologies which can safely destroy pathological wastes and laboratory cultures. It also provides healthcare professionals with an overview of the options available to them and includes technologies including heat-based disinfection, needle destroyers and tissue digesters.
Work in Nepal
HCWH and Nepali strategic partners, HECAF, have been piloting the use of biodigestion as a method of treating organic wastes, particularly food and pathological waste. They are mixed with water in underground concrete domes seeded with cow dung, where bacteria break them down and generate methane-containing biogas, which can be used for cooking or water heating. The digesters are low-maintenance, and by capturing the methane that would be generated as these materials rot for use as a fuel, they reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the waste stream.
HCWH contributed to key international reports such as the UN Special Rapporteur’s report on hazardous waste and human rights, UN Environment Program’s compendium of health care waste treatment and destruction technologies the 'Blue Book', WHO’s guidance for all governments on health care waste management. Our experts serve as leading authorities on sustainable health care waste management in international policy fora.
The Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network
HCWH is working with healthcare institutions globally to facilitate diverse projects to ensure safe and sustainable healthcare waste management. Many of these can be seen on the GGHH Case Studies page, where waste is the number one goal.
Health facilities around the world are challenged to take on measurable actions to reduce the amount and toxicity of waste produced, while implementing the most environmentally sound waste management and disposal options. Together, as a collective, Waste Challenge participants from around the globe form a powerful, leading voice and example for the global health sector to follow.