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Hot off the press: 'No time to waste' in Nepal

Transforming healthcare waste management for a healthier, more sustainable Nepal

Staff at Central Treatment Facility Pokhara

A publication on key themes and learnings

The safe treatment and disposal of healthcare waste is rising on the agenda in Nepal as the country works towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal targets related to health, water and sanitation, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, and climate action. This publication offers a snapshot of the challenges, as well as the progress being made in healthcare waste management in Nepal at the current moment in time. It distils some of the key themes and learnings, provides examples of diverse healthcare waste management initiatives, and presents the views of some of the health workers, local government officials, entrepreneurs and activists who are transforming waste from a problem into an opportunity.

A national workshop on integrated healthcare waste management

In December 2019 a national workshop was convened to discuss, for the first time, what an integrated model of healthcare waste management at the local level could and should look like in Nepal, and how to foster effective partnerships towards this end. The gathering provided an opportunity to share and learn from some of the pathbreaking initiatives currently underway in the country, both within the health sector and beyond it.

Conditions are ripe for new developments

Nepal faces significant challenges in its quest to ensure that all healthcare facilities adopt safe waste management practices. However, a number of factors work in its favour. First, low-cost, appropriate and environmentally-friendly technologies are available which can help healthcare facilities safely segregate, treat and dispose of infectious waste. These are being successfully employed in Nepal in a small, but growing number of healthcare institutions. Second, there are some dynamic pockets of innovation in Nepal in the fields of healthcare waste management, municipal solid waste management, commercial recycling and waste minimisation. New models for managing healthcare waste are being tested, some of which bring together municipalities, health institutions and private companies in mutually-beneficial partnerships. Third, there is growing political will to tackle environmental health risks, such as those posed by poor healthcare waste management, as well as mounting expectations on the part of citizens that this happen. The conditions are therefore ripe for major developments in this field.

May 2020

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