Starting on the right foot: a supply chain perspective on health care waste reduction

In public health supply chain management, the goal is to get the right quantity, of the right products, to the right place, at the right time, for the right price, and repeating this process to prevent stockouts.

But what happens with the waste created when the products have done their job? What do countries do with expired products? And how is hazardous waste moved and disposed of?

PQMD member PFSCM demonstrates a mock packaging exercise undertaken with measurement of pallets in different configurations (Photo courtesy PFSCM).

According to World Health Organization (WHO) almost 80% of the waste generated by health care activities is comparable to domestic waste. The remaining 20% are considered hazardous materials that may be infectious, toxic or radioactive, and related risks have so far been only poorly investigated

In an article on their website, PQMD member Partnership for Supply Chain Management (PFSCM) explains the complexities associated with health care waste reduction and management.

As mentioned in the article, not all health care waste can be prevented, but from a supply chain perspective, waste generated as a result of expired products, damages during transportation, unwanted donations (for example, those that do not meet country requirements or donations with low remaining shelf-life), counterfeit products, or unsuitable products (such as those with incorrect or untranslated labelling), can be minimized.

PFSCM 4PL Services Director, Ishmael Muchemenyi, explains that accurate forecasting and quantification, best procurement practices, well executed logistics, and proper inventory and warehousing management can significantly reduce the amount of heath care waste.

Read the full article on PFSCM’s website, including an example of a recent Mozambican waste management project undertaken by PFSCM and its partners.