Reducing UPOPs and Mercury Releases from the Health Sector in Africa

Lead country

Regional - Africa

Participating countries

Madagascar, Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia

Project status

Under implementation

Implementing period

From October 14, 2015 to January 8, 2021

SDGs addressed by this project

SDG targets

  1. 12.4 Achieve environmentally sound chemical, waste management
  2. 12.6 Encourage companies to adopt sustainable practices, reporting
  3. 6.2 Achieve universal access to adequate sanitation, hygiene

Project ID: 4865

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Technical team

  • Chemicals and Waste Programme

Technical area(s)

  • Persistent organic pollutants
  • Waste management


  • Hazardous_chemical_waste
  • E-waste
  • Unintentional POPs (e.g. furans, dioxins)


  • Human altered areas


  • Urban areas
  • Rural areas

Transformed sector(s)

  • Health care

UNDP role(s)

  • Capacity development / Technical assistance
  • Convening / Partnerships / Knowledge Sharing
  • Data collection and analysis


  • Management operation
  • Technology innovation
  • Capacity building


  • Waste management
  • Best available techniques & best environmental practices (BAT & BEP)
  • Institutional capacity building

Social inclusion

  • Private sector
  • Women
  • Local community/CSOs

Gender equality

  • Awareness raising (on gender)

Gender result effectiveness scale

  • Gender targeted


  • People pathway
  • Systems pathway
  • Sci-tech pathway

Risk reduction target(s)

  • Hazard control/mitigation
  • Reduce exposure
  • Improve resilience

SDG target(s)

  • 12.4 Achieve environmentally sound chemical, waste management
  • 12.6 Encourage companies to adopt sustainable practices, reporting
  • 6.2 Achieve universal access to adequate sanitation, hygiene

Conventions and protocols

  • Stockholm Convention (POPs)
  • Minamata Convention on Mercury

Private sector(s)

  • Small and medium-sized enterprises
  • Individuals/Entrepreneurs

Hot topic

  • Health
  • Cov-19
  • Public-private partnership

About this project


The overall objective of this full size GEF funded project, implemented by UNDP in partnership with WHO and the NGO Health Care Without Harm, is to implement best environmental practices and introduce non-incineration healthcare waste treatment technologies and mercury-free medical devices in four Sub-Saharan African countries (Ghana, Madagascar, Tanzania and Zambia) to reduce harmful releases from the health sector. In each of these four countries, the generation of healthcare waste (HCW) is rapidly increasing. Sub-Saharan countries face particular challenges in dealing with increasing HCW quantities, because HCW treatment technologies that meet international guidelines and fit local circumstances, are simply not available at market prices that facilities and governments can afford. As a result, countries most often opt for low technology incinerators, which result in significant releases of unintentional persistent organic pollutants (UPOPs). Such pollutants are considered to be among the most harmful, persistent, and bio-accumulative global pollutants in the world and therefore controlled under the Stockholm Convention on POPs. Similarly, Sub-Saharan countries face challenges in handling products and wastes containing mercury. Mercury, one of the world's most ubiquitous heavy metal neurotoxicants, has been an integral part of many medical devices such as thermometers and sphygmomanometers. When these devices break or leak with regularity, they add to the global burden of mercury in the environment and expose health care workers to the acute effects of the metal itself. Considering the harmful effect of mercury, the phase-out of such devices by 2020 is anticipated under the recently adopted Minamata Convention.


Non-incineration andMercury-free technologiesintroduced in Africancountries.Affordable non-incinerationtechnologies available in theAfrican region.

USD $6,653,195

Grant amount

USD $28,936,164

Leveraged amount (co-financing)


Source(s) of fund

Source(s) of fund


Related resources

Geospatial information

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Project reports and documentation



Reducing UPOPs and Mercury Releases from the Health Sector in Africa