Department of Environmental Science and Health, Faculty of Applied Sciences, National University of Science and Technology, Ascot, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; Scientific Agriculture and Environment Development Institute, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Electronic address: [Email]
Population growth, urbanisation and economic development have led to the increasing generation of municipal solid waste while environmentally sustainable management remains a challenge the world over. This study sought to investigate health effects associated with proximity to waste collection points in Beitbridge Municipality, Zimbabwe. A cross-sectional study was undertaken to compare the occurrence of disease among the residents living within different distances from the waste collection points (50 m, 100 m, 150 m, 200 m, 250 m, 300 m and above 300 m). A handheld GPS device was used to collect coordinates of the location for the purposes of mapping. The Fishers Exact test and the Multiple Logistic Regression model conducted (on STATA V 13 SE) to determine the association between different variables and the occurrence of health effects. Questionnaires were administered to 700 stratified randomly selected respondents. Five refuse collection points and spatial distribution of health conditions were mapped at Dulibadzimu high-density suburb. The overall response rate was 98% and females constituted the majority of respondents (58%). Most of these respondents were aged between 26 and 35 years of age and were involved in informal trading (35%). Reported health conditions were diarrhoea, dyspnoea, dry cough, eye irritation and asthma. Distance, waste collection point, level of education, nature of occupation and sex were significant contributors to the prevalence of health effects associated with exposure to waste. Exposure to waste is a serious health concern in Beitbridge. Local authority is encouraged to abolish these waste collection points and invest more on conventional waste management systems in partnership with different stakeholders.