Health care workers in some of the world's poorest countries lack basic equipment to shield them from HIV and other bloodborne infections during surgical and other procedures, new research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests. The findings underscore the lack of adequate protective supplies in nations at the center of the current Ebola outbreak.
In Liberia, one of the countries most affected by Ebola, 56 percent of hospitals had protective eyewear for its doctors and nurses, while 63 percent had sterile gloves, the study found. In Sierra Leone, just 30 percent of hospitals had protective eyewear, while 70 percent had sterile gloves. The results of the research are reported online this month in the journal Tropical Medicine and International Health, and are based on data compiled between 2008 and 2013, before the current outbreak.
The Ebola virus is spread through direct contact through broken skin or mucous membranes with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids. More than 1,300 have died during the current West-African outbreak and transmission has frequently occurred when health care workers treating patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola have been infected. This has often occurred through close contact with patients when infection control precautions are not strictly practiced.
"Sadly, one of the only benefits of the Ebola crisis in West Africa may be to highlight the baseline lack of personal protective equipment such as eye protection, gloves and aprons for health care workers," says study leader Adam L. Kushner, MD, MPH, an associate in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of International Health. "These items are crucial to protect health care workers today, but were lacking long before the current crisis. We've seen this for many years with HIV."
|Contact: Stephanie Desmon|
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health