Experts seek awareness of nurses, paramedics against infections | Pakistan Today

Experts seek awareness of nurses, paramedics against infections

Empowerment of nurses, paramedics and janitorial staff at all hospitals through awareness and proper training is extremely crucial to prevent and control infections – most importantly hepatitis B and C – in the country. Experts addressing participants of a seminar titled ‘Infection control and its prevention’ held on Saturday said that 14.7 percent prevalence rate of hepatitis B has been reported among paramedics, followed by 7.3 percent among nurses, 6.8 percent among doctors and 5.2 percent among medical students in the country due to their exposure to the virus.
Prevalence of hepatitis B was said to be only one of the infections among several other health hazards and infections the healthcare providers are exposed to in different healthcare settings.
The event organised by Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) Institute of Nursing Senior Elective Students Post RN BScN in collaboration with Rural Supporting and Development Society and Hepatitis Advisory Board was addressed by Pakistan Medical Research Council (PMRC) Director Dr Huma Qureshi, PMRC Deputy Director Dr Waqaruddin Ahmed and DUHS Institute of Nursing Principal Shehla Naeem Zafar.
Qureshi said that lack of awareness among medical professionals, including a significant majority of doctors and nurses, had led to marked increase in the number of people infected with different infections, including hepatitis B and C.
“A survey conducted by the PMRC two years ago had found that 7.5 percent of our total population is suffering from either hepatitis B or C,” she said.
The PMRC director said that prevalence of infection in over 12 million people reflected high incidence of the blood borne disease in a country like Pakistan.
The infections were also found to be mainly contracted in healthcare settings due to absolute disregard for mandatory disposal of needles and syringes, reuse of drips and application of multi-dose vials, saline and drug ampoules, reuse of catheters, lack of replacement or at least proper sterilisation of instruments and so forth.
“It is lack of knowledge among the medical community, even senior doctors, that things have been allowed to aggravate,” she commented.
The PMRC director said that the time had come when nurses, paramedics and janitorial staff were empowered to protect themselves and patients against infections that could be fatal for them as well as for their families and colleagues.
“It is not only infected needles but even thermometers shared by patients that lead to spread of infection and, therefore, nowhere in the world it is put into the mouth, but only placed under arms or on forehead,” she elaborated.
She urged the medical professionals to realise their vulnerability to blood borne infections as well as those that could be contracted through their unprotected exposure to infected fluids, tissues, sputum and other human waste.
“Air borne viral infections as influenza caused due to lack of cough etiquettes and sneezing is again a threat that is often overlooked by many,” said Dr Qureshi.
Dr Ahmed said that sharp waste generated at hospitals and in similar settings contribute to a minimum of 20 percent of all infections in the country. “This has turned sharp waste management into a key issue for infection control,” he said.
The researcher said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had approved the strategy of needle cutters and their incineration was also introduced in the hospitals of the country; however, owing to some reasons, this could not prove to be very successful.
Reuse of needles and syringes continue to haunt people as their risk to blood borne infections persists, he said.
It is not only hepatitis B or C, but other blood borne infections are also contracted by unassuming spouses through their partners who may have been a drug addict or exposed to infection during medical treatment.
Ahmed said that a pilot project is being launched at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre in collaboration with WHO and the Health Foundation whereby a needles pit would be constructed for disposal of shredded pieces of needles and other sharp objects.

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