Blood Borne Pathogen Assessment Survey among Healthcare Workers in Haiti
(School of Public Health (UMD) Behavioral and Community Health Faculty)
Background and Objectives: According to WHO, about three million of the world’s 35 million healthcare workers are occupationally exposed to Blood Borne Pathogens (BBP) each year. More than 90% of all occupational exposures occur in developing countries where the prevalence of three most common blood-borne pathogens (hepatitis B, C, and HlV) may be higher than that of developed countries. In Haiti, the HIV and hepatitis prevalence is about 2-4%. Therefore, in order to address BBP exposure among healthcare workers in Haiti a team of investigators from public health, nursing and medicine in the US and Haiti conducted a pilot study to assess practices to prevent BBP transmission in hospitals in Haiti. Methods: Surveys in Haitian Creole were administered to 97 hospital employees (nurses, physicians, housekeeping staff, and lab technicians) assessing previous occupational exposure and workplace practices related to BBP. Additional questions asked about Ebola preparedness and handling of medical waste. Results and Conclusions: The one-year prevalence of blood-borne pathogen exposure in our study of Haitian hospitals was 16.6 per 100 FTE. This was higher than the rate found among Maryland nurses that was 12.6 per 100 FTE. Also, we found that physicians reported substantially greater injuries due to being stuck with a needle or other sharp object contaminated with blood or bodily fluids while at work (50.00%) compared with nurses (27.45%), housekeepers (26.32%), and lab technicians (15.38%). In addition, physicians were injured in the past year at a greater rate, and reported their injury or exposure less than other professions. These findings indicate the need for a greater focus on educating and training physicians on occupational safety and health in Haitian hospitals.