An evaluation of operational and administrative procedures for health care waste management in public district hospitals of South Africa
Vumase, Sipho Bongane
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Although there is an abundance of health care waste information in South Africa, not enough studies have been done in public district hospitals particularly in rural areas. Hospitals find it difficult to comply with the minimum requirements of health care waste management guidelines, such as segregation of waste. If hazardous waste gets mixed with non-hazardous waste, waste disposal and treatment become costly. Furthermore, there has been a sharp increase in the amount of waste generated from health facilities. However, there seem to be uncoordinated efforts in each province in dealing with waste problems. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the process of operational and administrative procedures of health care waste management in hospitals. The study was conducted to facilitate the optimisation of waste management. A quantitative approach was chosen for this study because cause and effect relationships can more easily be identified, and the research is more structured and controlled. The project involved an enquiry into the perception of respondents on the procedures used in managing health care waste. Data was collected from 270 respondents out of 27 hospitals in nine provinces of South Africa. The informants were health care waste workers who were either directly or indirectly involved in waste management. A questionnaire was used as a research instrument. Results were analysed statistically using a special package for scientific studies. It has been found that in the midst of financial challenges, hospitals are unable to prioritise and rank absolutely important activities that are necessary to be undertaken to meet minimum requirements of health care waste management as laid out in the health care waste guidelines and directives. Shortages of waste equipment such as trolleys, waste containers, and temporary storage areas were the main challenges facing hospitals. The recommendations set the tone and provide a blueprint that health care managers may consider in facilitating improvement in the management of health care waste.