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Waste management

Health Care Waste (HCW) is an inevitable byproduct of providing services to the population. If not managed properly, HCW can cause unintended harm to human health as well as significant environmental damage. Safe and sustainable HCW management (HCWM) should be seen as an integral part of the procurement and supply chain management of health products, rather than as an add-on or afterthought. UNDP COs are encouraged to to incorporate sustainable HCWM practices into their projects and should ensure budgeting of these activities during project planning.

Waste management of health products falls under the overall responsibility of the national Ministry of Health and/or Ministry of Environment. Applicable laws and regulations (i.e National waste management policy) should be known to UNDP CO PSM specialist(s). When UNDP COs are involved in waste management of health products, all activities should be in full compliance with national regulations (if they exist).

UNDP COs should ensure the safe disposal of unusable (e.g., damaged, expired) and used (e.g., used RDTs, laboratory waste) health products, using methods that involve minimal risks to public health and the environment. Guidance is provided in WHO-related guidelines. UNDP CO are involved in health products waste management in the following cases: 1) Disposal of rejected health products at their reception in country (for instance due to confirmed or suspected quality issues, incorrect specifications), or 2) Disposal of expired or obsolete health products that were procured by UNDP CO.

The preferred mode of disposal is incineration at high temperatures with double combustion. For each country, it will be important that UNDP CO identify a site for disposal of the health products (that could be, for example, a cement factory with high temperature combustion facility) or support (if budget allows) in procuring an incinerator, supporting the development of SOPs, and ensuring a mechanism is in-place to sustain operation of the incinerator beyond the project lifespan.

Once products have been destroyed, UNDP COs should obtain a copy of the destruction certificate, signed by the NRA and other partners involved, and should prepare a disposal report with the quantities of products, the reasons for expiry and/or disposal, and measures taken to avoid similar situations in the future.


UNDP guidance on medicines waste management is detailed in the UNDP online PSM training, Module on Waste Management.

Additional information developed by the Global Fund can also be found here.

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