|Health care workers at risk of TB|
|Wednesday, 13 June 2012 20:51|
COMMUNITY health workers in Kwekwe who are assisting tuberculosis patients to cope at home are at high risk of contracting the highly contagious infection as they do not wear facial masks or gloves when doing their routine check-ups on patients.
Mrs Patricia Mudoti, a community health worker for Kwekwe’s Ward 11 said the home visits were carried out three times a week.
“Our health is at risk as we come face to face with TB patients in the community. We do not have masks to protect ourselves from direct infection from the patients yet we are in contact with them more frequently than anyone else,” said Mrs Mudoti.
She said as part of their duties, the community health workers bathed and fed the patients who in most cases have been neglected by their own relatives.
For TB infection control in most hospitals, the patient does not sit directly opposite the health worker.
Instead, the patient strategically sits parallel to the health worker flanked by a window on one side and a fan on the other blowing away air supposedly carrying TB pathogens through the window.
Sadly, none of these initiatives are applicable to most homes as patient spend most of their time in a small and often crowded room with little or no ventilation.
“In some cases we attend to these patients from their little rooms, which usually have little ventilation and we communicate directly with them without any protection,” said Mrs Mudoti.
The community health workers were recruited by the Kwekwe Municipality to whom they report.
TB Co-ordinator for Kwekwe Mr George Huruva said the TB prevalence for the district was 587 per 100 000.
He attributed the lack of protective clothing for community health workers to limited resources.
“We do not have adequate resources to buy kits and even incentivise our community health workers,” Mr Huruva said.
He said with funds permitting, the district planned to construct a shed for patients during their monthly clinics.
Currently, the monthly clinics are done from outside the clinic.
According to the Zimbabwe’s 2010 Millennium Development Goals Status Report the country is ranked 17 out of the world’s 22 high-burden TB countries.