healthcare waste


Healthcare waste - also called hospital, clinical or medical waste - is the range of waste generated by hospitals and health clinics. While it is similar to domestic waste, it also contains a proportion of hazardous waste, which requires specific treatment.

Healthcare waste is hazardous because it has the potential to be infectious to humans, or cause injury and may contaminate the environment, therefore proper treatment and disposal is important to protect people and our natural surroundings.

Healthcare waste includes:

  • infectious waste such as biological and pathological waste, e.g. body parts, blood, human tissue, swabs or laboratory cultures
  • chemical waste such labroatory reagents, solvents and solutions
  • radiological waste such as isotopes used in nuclear medicine for treating cancer
  • sharps such as syringes/needles, infusion sets, scalpels, blades
  • pharmaceutical products that are expired, unused or unwanted

Poor management can result in the following injuries, health and environmental impacts:

  • radiation burns
  • sharps-inflicted injuries
  • poisoning and pollution through the release of pharmaceutical products (antibiotics and cytotoxic drugs)
  • poisoning and pollution through waste water
  • poisoning and pollution by toxic elements or compounds (e.g. mercury or dioxins that are released during incineration)

Healthcare waste in the Pacific

The quantity of healthcare waste in the Pacific region is increasing as population grows and medical services expand. In order to protect Pacific communities from exposure to healthcare wastes we need to protect all individuals who could be exposed to the risks of improperly managed healthcare waste. This includes healthcare workers at hospitals and health clinics, hospital workers responsible for the handling, transport and disposal of healthcare waste, and members of the community living near hospitals and health clinics.

In developing countries, additional hazards occur from scavenging at waste disposal sites and the manual sorting of hazardous waste from hospitals and health clinics. These practices are common in the Pacific.

Kirakira SI Handling waste barefoot 2014
How will PacWaste address healthcare waste?

The PacWaste project will gather baseline information from 14 participating countries across the Pacific region and Timor Leste about the current state of healthcare waste management at hospitals and healthcare clinics. This will enable prioritisation of future actions to assist Pacific islands in improving healthcare waste management and better protect their communities.These achievements will be shared through regional collaboration during the final phase of the project.

Participating countries and hospitals

The following hospitals were part of the healthcare waste baseline survey carried out between March and May 2014.

cook islandsCook Islands

  • Rarotonga General Hospital (Rarotonga)
  • Aitutaki District Hospital (Aitutaki)


Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)

  • Yap Memorial Hospital (Yap) 
  • Chuuk State Hospital (Chuuk)
  • Pohnpei State Hospital (Pohnpei)
  • Kosrae State Hospital (Kosrae)


  • Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWMH) (Suva)
  • Lautoka Hospital (Viti Levu)
  • Labasa Hospital (Vanua Levu)
  • Nadi Hospital (Levu)
  • Sigatoka Hospital (Viti Levu)

kiribati Kirbati

  • Tungaru Hospital (South Tarawa)
  • London Hospital (Kiritimati Island)

marshall islandsRepublic of Marshall Islands

  • Ebeye Hospital (Kwajalein Atoll)
  • Majuro Hospital (Majuro)


  • Republic of Nauru Hospital

niue  Niue

  • Niue Foou Hospital

palau  Palau

  • Belau National Hospital

papua new guinea

Papua New Guinea (PNG)

  • Port Moresby General Hospital (National Capital District)



  • Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital (TTMH) (Upolu)
  • Malietoa Tanumafili II Hospital (MTII H) (Savaii)

solomon islands  Solomon Islands

  • National Referral Hospital (NRH) (Honiara, Guadalcanal)
  • Gizo Hospital (Ghizo, Western Province)
  • Helena Goldie Hospital (Munda, Western Province)
  • Kilu'ufi Hospital (Malaita)
  • Atoifi Adventist Hospital (Malaita)
  • Kirakira Hospital (Markira-Ulawa Province)

timor-leste   Timor Leste

  • Guido Valadares National Hospital (Dili, Dili District)
  • Baucau Referral Hospital (Baucau District)
  • Maliana Referral Hospital (Bobonaro District)
  • Suai Referral Hospital (Cova Lima District)
  • Maubisse Referral Hospital (Ainaro District)


  • Vaiola Hospital
  • Prince Ngu Hospital
  • Niu'eiki Hospital
  • Niu'ui Hospital

tuvalu  Tuvalu

  • Princess Margaret Hospital (Funafuti)

vanutau  Vanuatu

  • Port Vila General Hospital (Efate, Shefa Province)
  • Northern Districts Hospital (Espiritu Santo, Sanma Province)
  • Lenakel Hospital (Tanna, Tafea Province)
  • Norsup Hospital (Malakula, Malampa Province)
  • Panunagis Health Centre (North Efate, Shefa Province)

Download the PacWaste Healthcare Waste Fact Sheet