Occupational health

Needlestick injuries

Aims of the project

  • To reduce exposure to HIV and other sharps related infections (HepB, Hep C) in health care workers and to prevent the transmission of occupational acquired HIV
  • To raise awareness amongst health care workers on the risks of HIV transmission ( also creating a better understanding of Occ health and the Epidemiology/risk for communities)
  • To implement programmes in selected countries (including South Africa, Tanzania, Vietnam; and Egypt) and settings (hospitals, clinics, health care settings in general ), through national nursing associations and WHO CCs on Occ. Health, and others, using existing infrastructure and systems
  • To evaluate the impact of the toolkit and make it more specific in terms of occupational safety and health
  • To develop an evaluation plan
  • To develop and publish tested and validated materials on the protections of HCWs from blood-borne diseases

A study done by Casten Mantel shows that in 20 countries with injection safety assessments, health-care workers experienced on average 1-9 needlestick injuries year. An assessment done by the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office shows an average of 4 needlestick injuries per year per health-care worker.

In developing countries, and especially in Africa, the already weakened health-care workforce is heavily affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Very few efforts have been undertaken to raise awareness of the health-care workers and hospital managers. Concrete knowledge on the transmission of HIV and other blood-borne diseases in health-care facilities is very limited. Unsafe practices are very common. There is a need for standardized procedures and tested interventions to be widely distributed to health-care workers all over the globe. Additionally, there is a lack of regulation and policy to protect health workers from exposure (even in most developed countries).

Responding to this reality, the Vaccines and Biologicals SIGN group at WHO has developed a “toolkit”, entitled “A behaviour change strategy to achieve a safe and appropriate use of injections”. An effort has commenced to put in place the initial implementation of the toolkit in Africa and Asia and to evaluate the toolkit usage.

The Injection safety toolkit was adapted for occupational health use and revised after the pilot projects in South Africa, Tanzania and Vietnam. It was then further adapted and translated into Spanish for use in Latin America.