Diagnostic waste: Whose responsibility?

Alice Street*, Eva Vernooij, Mohamed Hashim Rogers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


Waste management is notably absent from current discussions about efforts to improve access to diagnostics in low-and middle-income Countries (LMICs). Yet an increase in testing will inevitably lead to an increase in diagnostic waste, especially since many of the diagnostic tests designed for use in LMICs are single-use point-of-care tests. Diagnostic waste poses a threat to both human and environmental health. In this commentary we draw on our experience of diagnostic waste management in Sierra Leone and review current evidence on: the volume and impact of diagnostic waste in LMICs, existing health-care waste management capacity in LMICs, established national and international policies for improving health-care waste management, and opportunities for strengthening policy in this area. We argue that questions of safe disposal for diagnostics should not be an afterthought, only posed once questions of access have already been addressed. Moreover, responsibility for safe disposal of diagnostic waste should not fall solely on national health systems by default. Instead, consideration of the end-life of diagnostic products must be fully integrated into the diagnostic access agenda and greater pressure should be placed on manufacturers to take responsibility for the full life-cycle of their products.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30
Number of pages7
JournalGlobalization and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2022


  • diagnostics
  • product development
  • responsibility
  • sustainability
  • waste management


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