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Healthcare workers trained in Occupational Health and Safety for the Prevention of Needle Stick Injuries and Exposure to Blood Borne Pathogens

Paramaribo, February 1, 2012 (PAHO/WHO) – Health care facilities around the world employ over 59 million workers who are exposed to a complex variety of health and safety hazards everyday including biological hazards, such as Tuberculosis, Hepatitis, HIV/AID; physical hazards, such as noise, radiation and falls; ergonomic hazards, such as heavy lifting; chemical hazards and numerous others. According to the WHO global burden of disease from sharps injuries to health-care workers showed that 37% of the hepatitis B among health workers was the result of occupational exposure. Protecting the occupational health of health workers is critical to having an adequate workforce of trained and healthy health personnel.

Today 33 health-care workers from the health sector in Suriname are continuing the train the trainer’s course in Occupational Health and Safety: for the prevention of needle stick injuries and exposure to blood borne pathogens. Professionals from St. George’s University of Grenada School of Medicine; the Academic Hospital Paramaribo and the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization provided technical support for this course. The goal is to prepare leaders in healthcare to provide training to other health workers on occupational health and prevention of blood borne Infections, as well as, to implement and evaluate policy and intervention measures to protect health workers, and to support the establishment of a regional network for occupational health.  
By the end of the training, the participants should be able to demonstrate a number of competencies, some of which are: an increased knowledge of the blood borne infection risks of exposure to needle-stick injuries; ability to conduct a rapid assessment to evaluate and make recommendations on policies, practices, and product changes needed to implement a needle stick prevention program; and skills to explain the importance of health workers’ involvement in needle safety and occupational health and the role of leaders in exposure control. 

Further, the trainees should also be able to identify the effective preventive measures according to the hierarchy of controls, describe the duties of the infection prevention and control, and describe the process of evaluation of needle-stick injury for post-exposure follow-up including prophylaxis. 

Another essential part of this training will focus on the evaluation of policy measures to protect health workers from blood borne pathogens and how to identify the rights of health workers and ethical implications with HIV and other blood borne infections. 

This course further provides an excellent opportunity to identify next steps to support the activities focusing on occupational health in the healthcare sector, such as the use of standardized protocols and the evaluation and support of the national program.

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