Knowledge Base

EBOLA - New Guidance Developed by WHO Team

Dr Anne Woolridge one of our project partners working with ISWA was a part of a group who been developing new practical guidance on the management of wastes from Ebola patients. The guidance was commissioned by the World Health Organisation. According to the WHO website the safe handling, treatment and disposal of health-care waste (HCW) are important tasks within the broader activities of stopping the Ebola outbreak. This is especially true considering the large amount of waste generated, including disposal Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The main objective of this document is to highlight specific public health issues concerning HCW in the context of low-resource settings, particularly in West Africa. It is not a stand-alone document and should be read in conjunction with more comprehensive guidance on safe management of health care waste, infection control and water and sanitation.  

Anne explained the process of the guideline development and told the HE&WM newsletter that:

“A team of people were invited by the WHO to develop practical advice for health centres in West Africa. The team consisted of international experts in healthcare waste, some of whom had dealt with waste generated from previous outbreaks of Ebola in Africa. The guidance had to be straightforward and utilise the existing facilities.

Although the UNDP has since installed 11 autoclaves, these were not available at the time while the guidance was being written. There were some interesting challenges as the WHO is  not in favour of and incineration technologies, however in some cases the only way of making the waste safe was to burn it.  One of the key points to consider was that the guidance from WHO should be in harmony with guidance already published by the aid agencies working in the field. After several iterations and much discussion the document was finalised.  We came up with a document that could be used in future scenarios in addition to dealing with issues in the current outbreak.”


The guidance can be found at Key questions and answers concerning health care waste


In addition the above document has a number of useful references and these have been listed below:


WHO/ILO 2014. Ebola Virus Disease: Occupational Safety and Health, WHO / ILO Briefing Note for Workers and Employers. World Health Organization, Geneva.


WHO/UNICEF 2014. Ebola Virus Disease- Key questions and answers concerning water, sanitation and hygiene. World Health Organization, Geneva.

WHO 2014. Clinical management of patients with viral haemorrhagic fever. A pocket guide for the front-line health worker. World Health Organization, Geneva.


WHO 2008. Essential Environmental Health Standards in Health Care. World Health Organization, Geneva.


WHO 2014. How to conduct a safe and dignified burial of a person who has died from suspected or confirmed Ebola virus disease. World Health Organization, Geneva.


WHO, 2014. How to safely put on and remove personal protective equipment. World Health Organization, Geneva.


WHO 2014. Interim Infection prevention and control guidance for care of patients in health-care settings, with focus on Ebola. World Health Organization, Geneva. 


WHO 2014. Safe management of wastes from healthcare activities. Second edition. World Health Organization, Geneva.


WHO 2006. Management of wastes from injection activities at district level. World Health Organization.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This website reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.