Authors: Malotle MM, Spiegel JM, Yassi A, Ngubeni D, O\’Hara LM, Adu PA Et Al.

Source: Public Health Action. Vol 7 No 4. December 2017


Setting: A provincial tertiary hospital in Gauteng province, South Africa, with a high burden of tuberculosis (TB) patients and high risk of TB exposure among health care workers (HCWs).Objective: To determine HCWs’ adherence to recommended TB infection prevention and control practices, TB training and access to health services and HCW TB rates.

Design: Interviews with 285 HCWs using a structured questionnaire as part of a large, international mixedmethods study.

Results: Despite 10 HCWs (including seven support HCWs) acquiring clinical TB during their period of employment, 62.8% of interviewees were unaware of the hospital’s TB management protocol. Receipt of training was low (34.5% of all HCWs and <5% of support HCWs trained on TB transmission; 27.5% of nurses trained on respirator use), as was use of respiratory protection (44.5% of HCWs trained on managing TB patients). Support HCWs were over 36 times more likely to use respiratory protection if trained; nurses who were trained were approximately 40 times more likely to use respirators if they were readily available.

Conclusion: Improved coordination and uptake of TB infection prevention training is urgently needed, especially for non-clinical HCWs in settings of regular exposure to TB patients. Adequate supplies of appropriate respiratory protection must be made available.

Keywords: health care workers; occupational tuberculosis; TB infection and control