In pursuing their aims of reducing health problems and eliminating potential risks to people’s health, health-care services inevitably create waste that may itself be hazardous to health. The waste produced in the course of health-care activities carries a higher potential for infection and injury than any other type of waste. Wherever it is generated, safe and reliable methods for its handling are therefore essential. Inadequate and inappropriate handling of health-care waste may have serious public health consequences and a significant impact on the environment. Sound management of health-care waste is thus a crucial component of environmental health protection. In both the short term and the long term, the actions involved in implementing effective health-care waste management programmes require multi-sectoral cooperation and interaction at all levels. Policies should be generated and coordinated globally, and the management practices implemented locally. Establishment of a national policy and a legal framework, training of personnel, and raising public awareness are essential elements of successful health-care waste management.