For their study, Kushner and his colleagues reviewed surveys from 399 hospitals in 13 low- and middle-income countries Afghanistan, Bolivia, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Mongolia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Zambia.
Overall, only 29 percent of hospitals always had eye protection, 64 percent always had sterilizing equipment and 75 percent always had sterile gloves. The range was wide among countries. For example, in Afghanistan, only one-quarter of hospitals had sterile gloves, while 100 percent of facilities in Nigeria and Bolivia had sterile gloves.
No country surveyed had 100 percent availability of all items. In the United States, this type of protective equipment is standard.
The necessity of protection for health care workers, especially those in surgical settings, has been well documented. One study showed that double gloving of health care workers during surgery resulted in an 80 percent reduction in perforations to the inner glove, preventing exposure to blood through openings in the skin. The same study found that more than half of the exposures to blood in sites other than the hand would have been prevented by the use of face shields, waterproof gowns and waterproof boots.
The World Health Organization has made it a priority to combat HIV, malaria and other bloodborne diseases. One neglected area in that effort is protecting health care workers from being placed at risk for infection, Kushner says. The Ebola outbreak highlights this dearth of critical and basic medical supplies. While the focus of the new study was HIV, Ebola can be spread in the same manner and the findings are just
|Contact: Stephanie Desmon|
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health