Occupational Safety

“You Never Think It Will Happen to You”: Health Workers Confront the Risks of Tuberculosis

This post was originally published on the IntraHealth International blog.

PatSarah Dwyerricia Bond was working as a nurse at a health facility in South Africa when she developed some troubling symptoms. Eventually she was diagnosed with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), a dangerous form of the disease that doesn’t respond to the usual medications and is notoriously difficult to treat.

“You hear of TB,” Patricia says, “but you never think it will happen to you.”

In South Africa, one epidemic has fueled another—HIV has sent TB rates soaring. The country now has the third-highest incidence of TB in the world, behind only India and China. And just by going to work every day, health workers like Patricia face major risk of exposure.    Read more »

Picturing Our Work: Protecting Health Workers

“To the doctors and pharmacists who died, victims of their devoutness during the epidemic of 1878, Gorée.”

In this photo from Ile de Gorée, an island off the coast of Dakar, Senegal, Carie Cox reminds us how health workers often sacrifice their own health or safety in order to care for their patients. In many countries, they may not have essential supplies to protect themselves or face occupational hazards or other safety concerns. Instead of contracting yellow fever in 1878, as the statue references, they may be exposed to HIV and risk infection because they have no postexposure prophylaxis. They may contract a serious illness because they don’t have access to clean running water to wash their hands. They may travel dangerous roads at night on the way to or from the health facility. They may be targets for attack during armed conflict. Read more »

Saving Lives Shouldn’t Mean You Risk Your Own

Health workers shouldn’t have to put themselves at risk in order to do their jobs. But in fact, many frontline health workers face a wide range of occupational safety and health hazards—biological, physical, chemical, and psychosocial, as well as gender-based violence and discrimination.

Let’s take a look at one health worker—the nurse below on the left. Read more »

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