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Nigeria Losing Health Workers to Lack of Tuberculosis Infection Control – Expert



By Praise Chinecherem

The Executive Director, Centre for Development and Reproductive Health (CDRH), Dr Alobu Isaac has decried lack of infection control mechanisms against Tuberculosis and other airborne diseases in various health facilities across the country.

He said several health workers have lost their lives as a result of lack of such control measures and negligence in the hospitals.

Alobu spoke in Enugu State during a media training on Gender and Human Rights for Tuberculosis Programmes organised by Grassroots Development & Empowerment (GRADE) Foundation and CDRH, with support of Stop TB Partnership Challenge Facility For Civil Society (CFCS)

The one-day training themed: Empowering Women Drives Change, Project for the Promotion of Gender for Transformative and Right based TB programme involved journalists, on-air personalities, bloggers, and content creators from Anambra and Ebonyi States.

Describing infection control as critical in any health facility setting, Alobu explained that the measure involved protection of not only health workers and patients, but visitors alike against any infectious disease.

He said, “We’ve actually lost lots of health workers both in medical and paramedical due to lack of adequate infection control measures in our hospitals, whether tetiary, secondary or primary.

“We have different components of infection control. Administrative aspect focuses on measures by hospital administrators to make sure infection transmission within the hospital are properly contained.

“Some of the administrative measures include putting signages on strategic entrances to indicate directions to various units in the hospital.

“These limits chances of infectious patients visiting the hospital from spreading the disease before finally settling in their appropriate units to be taken care of.

“Another aspect is personal protective measures. The commonest ones include washing of hands, wearing appropriate protective gadgets, like face or nose masks and handgloves to reduce chances of getting infected especially for airborne diseases.

“Again is the physical or environmental protective measures like ensuring arrangements of windows. Windows are supposed to be regularly opened for proper and cross ventilation. Anything contrary impedes ventilation and enhances transmission of infectious diseases.

“Use of ultra violet lights in very highly infectious areas like laboratories is yet another component. These lights can kill the pathogens and sterilizing the entire environment, making it safe for work.

“Again is proper clerking of patients. When they come, there’s need for proper history taking. This can help dictate the status of the patient and be subjected to proper investigation and immediate treatment.

“History taking of patients will go a long way to interrupt the transmission chain and safeguard visitors and other patients and health workers.

“Moreover is the place of education for behavioral changes of hospital workers, including the security guards. The infection control supposed to begin from the hospital entrance. Those manning the gate must be properly educated to direct visitors aright.”

Earlier, Executive Director, GRADE Foundation, Dr. Patrick Amah advised the citizenry to always seek medical attention early over symptoms of Tuberculosis.

He said the project was aimed at involving more women and girls who were more prone to being victims of gender and human rights related issues in TB Control in aggressive enlightenment through the help of the print, electronic and social media.

He revealed that TB is the third leading cause of death among women of reproductive age with research indicating negative impacts of stigmatisation and discrimination against women within the family, healthcare facilities and the communities.
He said the training programme, with emphasis on women, was targeted at equiping the media to assist in disseminating information about TB for the uninformed to prevent the scourge.

He said, “People die of TB because of ignorance, superstition and late presentation. Some will be blaming it on food poisoning and be going from one spiritual house to another seeking for solution.

“If you have cough that persists for two weeks or more, go for test that’s what we’re saying. We want to take advantage of the media to disseminate the information to the grassroots.

“We decided to lay more emphasis on women because in the past, it has been men affair. Now we want to reverse the trend to involve the women.

“One, they are more in number. Secondly, they talk a lot, so more people will hear them more than the men. That’s even the main reason the proposal for the training was approved.”

On TB risk factors, Amah said “you have to be conscious of your environment. Because TB is an airborne disease, you never can tell when and where it will come from.

“Everyone should be wise and seek medical care early. There’s also need to avoid overcrowded places, including joints.”

The training featured group work sessions and development of operational communication workplans by participants.

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