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New measures to protect medics from Covid-19 out

The Ministry of Health has announced a raft of measures to be implemented by health facilities in order to minimise the transmission of the deadly Covid-19 to healthcare workers.

Health CAS Dr Rashid Aman, on Wednesday, said that coronavirus infection for healthcare workers mostly happens at work, putting them at high risk.

Dr Doreen Adisa Lugaliki was the first medic to die of the virus in the country. Two other nurses have also succumbed to the same disease.

Dr Aman says that transmission of the disease among health workers is associated with overcrowding, lack of established practises of infection control and poor implementation of infection prevention control guidelines.

Other factors include inadequate training in infection prevention and control measures for both the frontline workers, staff and support staff in health facilities.

He says lack of this training and knowledge leaves them exposed.

“When health workers are at risk, we are all at risk. In the context of the rapidly evolving Covid-19 pandemic, occupational health and safety systems are critical. Hence the Ministry of Health has come up with Infection and control health strategies to limit transmission at health facilities,” Dr Aman said.

Some of the guidelines include; isolating patients with suspected Covid-19 infection and encouraging healthcare workers to have a high level of clinical suspicion.

“They should also establish a well-equipped triage station at the entrance of every healthcare facility, supported by trained staff to promote hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene as essential preventive measures,” Dr Aman explained

Additionally, they will also need to apply standard precautions for all patients at all times by putting into consideration widespread community transmission.

The standard precautions include hand hygiene, the use of personal protective equipment, injection safety practices, safe waste management, environmental cleaning and sterilisation of patient care equipment.

“Administrative control and policies for the prevention and control of transmission of Covid-19 infections within the healthcare facility will be mandated to ensure that the prevention measures are implemented,” Dr Aman said.

“These include educating patients, caregivers implementing policies on the early recognition of acute respiratory infection potentially caused by Covid-19.”

To further reduce the risk of transmission of the disease among healthcare workers, Dr Aman says there is a need to monitor all healthcare workers to comply with standard precautions and provide mechanisms for improvement.