Bangladesh: Managing medical waste cuts down infection risk in health complexes

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has set up medical waste management services as part of our support to health complexes in Cox's Bazar district of Bangladesh to develop sustainable infection prevention and control (IPC) programmes during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.


We have inaugurated three medical waste management facilities in recent months, which will help reduce cross-infection, sharps injuries and environmental hazards that result from the improper handling of medical waste.

Primary segregation of medical waste at source at Chakaria Health Complex, Cox's Bazar district. Gias Uddin

As part of the ICRC's on-the-job training, hospital staff learn about the different components of the medical waste management process: identification of the different types of medical waste; segregation of medical waste according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recommended colour code; transportation of medical waste from the wards/nursing stations to the medical waste facility; the treatment and final safe disposal of medical waste.

The collaboration between the ICRC and the Chakaria, Ramu and Pekua health complexes in Cox's Bazar district started in 2020 as a response to the pandemic. It has laid the foundation for a strengthened and improved long-term IPC programme that focuses on medical waste management. The programme includes setting up an IPC Committee to oversee all processes, thus ensuring a safer working environment and, ultimately, better healthcare services.

Medical waste management facility set up by the ICRC at Pekua Health Complex, Cox’s Bazar district. Nagham Awada/ICRC

During the inauguration at Ramu Health Complex, Manish Das, Head of the ICRC's subdelegation in Cox's Bazar, said:

"The ICRC has set up and supported the running of medical waste management facilities in five health complexes in Cox's Bazar district to address issues of medical waste management and help prevent infections. We are now handing over to the local health authorities the responsibility of medical waste management operations and ensuring the safe handling of medical waste by guaranteeing the sustainability of these projects. The ICRC will continue to work with the IPC committees of the health complexes to ensure processes are fully and correctly implemented."

Placement of bins with proper labels for the segregation of medical waste according to the recommended colour code in Bangladesh. Akram Uddin/ICRC

Between 2015 and 2021, the ICRC has set up five medical waste management facilities in Teknaf, Ukhiya, Chakaria, Ramu and Pekua health complexes of Cox's Bazar district that serve over a million people, helping them safely manage medical waste and reduce the risk of infections for patients, staff and visitors at the healthcare facilities.