While doctors, nurses, and lab technicians were working to help others, they were worried about their own health and safety. They did not have the training and supplies they needed to protect themselves against infection or injury and had seen their fellow workers fall ill from needlesticks and other workplace exposures. Like many developing country healthcare facilities, their own hospital was not a safe place to work.
AmeriCares developed a comprehensive Health Worker Safety Initiative and, within three years, the Bugando Medical Centre had undergone a drastic change. All 1,200 employees at the hospital were trained in proven safety techniques—everything from safely handling used needles to putting out fires. Nearly 900 health workers were vaccinated against hepatitis B so they could protect themselves and their patients from this deadly illness. The improved safety of all the hospital staff members has a significant impact on the quality of care provided to the 240,000 patients treated at Bugando each year.
In all, AmeriCares provided $3.6 million in training, facilities upgrades, products and other support services so Bugando Medical Center could become a center of excellence in health worker safety.
Through the Health Worker Safety Initiative, AmeriCares and Bugando Medical Centre (BMC) worked with Tanzania’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to develop a training curriculum for promoting workplace safety at BMC. The eight-module training package and reference guide reflect best practices in occupational safety in healthcare settings, and can be adapted to a variety of clinical settings to improve health workers’ ability to protect themselves and their patients from hospital hazards and infection. This training curriculum was implemented at BMC through the Health Worker Safety Initiative pilot, through which over 1,200 BMC health workers were trained by 40 peer trainers in best practices for occupational safety and infection prevention and control.