Waste Management Sub-CoP
The Waste Management sub-community of practice (Waste Mgt sub-CoP) is a dedicated segment of the greater LabCoP. The Waste Mgt sub-CoP gathers country teams (made up of laboratorians, clinicians, and representatives from ministries of health and stakeholders (implementing partners, regulatory and technical agencies) to find concrete ways to improve and increase adoption and implementation of safer, practical, and sustainable methods/technologies for the disposal of waste generated by testing for COVID-19, HIV, tuberculosis (TB), malaria and other key diseases.
Safe health-care waste management is fundamental for the provision of quality, people-centered care, protecting patient and staff safety and safeguarding the environment. Diagnostic laboratories regularly generate hazardous or dangerous wastes which if improperly managed, can pose threats to human health, safety, and the environment. The scale up of diagnostic testing to meet global and regional targets has led to exponential growth of amount of both solid and liquid waste produced. HIV testing, for example, produces an estimated one million litres of effluent waste and two million kg for solid waste annually.
HIV viral load, early infant diagnosis and COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing produces potentially hazardous chemical waste that contains guanidinium thiocyanate (GTC). When GTC comes in contact with an acid or oxidizer, such as bleach, it produces hydrogen cyanide gas. GTC is toxic to humans and animals. If untreated and poured down the drain can pollute waters and harm aquatic life. Proper storage, designation, treatment, and disposal of chemical waste and other types of waste can prevent serious consequences of catastrophic events or accidents. The scale up of community testing for many priority diseases including COVID-19 rapid testing poses a fresh challenge. For example, each COVID-19, HIV, hepatitis rapid test comes with of plastic packaging that ends up in the landfill. Considering billions of testing kits that have been purchased worldwide, tens of thousands of kg of plastic waste per billion tests are generated. Unfortunately, current waste management practices in most countries are suboptimal due to lack of adequate policy, lack of awareness, resources and poor adherence to standard practices.
Through targeted technical assistance, knowledge and experiences, south-to-south collaborations and many other LabCoP modalities, the Waste Mgt sub-CoP facilitates joint development, review, and strengthening of laboratory waste management systems, and safe and proper disposal of medical laboratory waste in member countries.
How to Join
A LabCoP country team may send a Letter of Intent to join the Waste Mgt Sub-CoP to Dr Collins Otieno Odhiambo, LabCoP Project Lead email.
Waste Management Resources
- The HIV Laboratory Waste Cost Assessment Framework (WCAF) – this tool supports laboratories with a standardised format for forecasting waste disposal costs for HIV VL and EID to country level program managers for country operational plan planning.
- Waste Management Training ECHO Sessions – These webinars provide training on proper waste management practices.
- Managing laboratory waste from HIV-related molecular testing: Lessons learned from African countries
- Engineering a sustainable future for point-of-care diagnostics and single-use microfluidic devices
Explore more waste management resources available in ASLM’s Resource Centre here!
GTC-Containing Waste Mitigation Strategies
ASLM and WNWN is funded by the US CDC to assist 9 PEPFAR-supported countries (Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) with the selection, implementation, and scaling up of context appropriate GTC-containing waste mitigation strategies, based on identified gaps of the policy framework, available waste management technology, and volume of HIV testing-related waste.
GHSA Technical Assistance in Malawi
ASLM was granted funding by CDC – ITF to support the finalization of the Malawi National Waste Management Guideline. The revised version of the guideline was shared with the MoH-Malawi technical staffs for final review and approval by the secretary of health. The guideline consists of waste management for COVID-19 testing facilities and enriched with the inclusion of ISO 15190 and ISO 35001 standards. Timeline: October 2021 to September 2022.
South Sudan and Zambia
Zambia assisted South Sudan with SOP development, installation, commissioning and training of users in operation of the high-temperature incinerator, servicing and routine maintenance to support the final, safe disposal of waste.
More information coming soon.
The Waste Mgt Sub-CoP develops guidance and various information. Key activities include Waste Mgt themed ECHO sessions, summary of research, and best practices detailed in LabCoP’s Cookbook of Best Practices. News articles about Waste Mgt are also included in the LabCoP Connect newsletter and ASLM’s News web page. Many of these may be found in the Resources section below.