Wastewater Management and Protocols

Photo by Steve Sara / MCSP

Appropriate Resources:

In 2014, WHO published the second edition of the Safe Management of Wastes from Health-care Activities handbook. This resource provides in depth guidance on how to manage various types of health-care waste, including wastewater.

Note: National policies and standards should also be consulted when designing, monitoring or evaluating healthcare waste standards.

Appropriate Staff, Process and Management Considerations:

Each HCF should designate staff to manage various types of HCF waste. These staff members should be trained in waste management standards and considerations, as well as infection prevention and control protocols. Where waste management services are not available, facility management should ensure that improved on-site waste disposal systems are available, functional, and cordoned off from the public.

MCSP Rapid Assessment Questions:

To improve wastewater management, each HCF can consider the following questions from MCSP’s HCF rapid assessment tool. The tool was adapted from WHO’s Essential Environmental Standards in Health Care.

Design and construction Operation and maintenance
  • Is there a system for managing wastewater drainage?
  • Are employees aware of proper use for wastewater disposal?
  • Does the wastewater drainage system have sufficient design and capacity, i.e. is there standing water in its catchment area?
  • Is the system operated and cleaned so as to maintain its capacity?
  • Does the system risk contaminating water sources, i.e., is it near or upstream of the HCF’s or surrounding community’s water source?
  • Are procedures in place for keeping water supplies independent and well identified, and are procedures followed consistently?
  • Is there a dedicated staff person responsible for wastewater? Have they received training?
  • Is there a staff person with wastewater management in their job description?

Additional Tools and Resources for Wastewater Management and Protocols in HCF settings:

  • In 2017, WHO & UNICEF published the WASHFit Tool, which includes essential indicator and advanced indicator assessment tools for wastewater disposal (Tool 2), risk assessment templates (Tool 3), and improvement plan templates (Tool 4).