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Poorly trained health workers risk exposure to hepatitis

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2008 at 3:50 pm

– Health workers in the country are at serious risk of contracting the hepatitis B virus due to exposure to blood and body fluids and lack of knowledge on safety measures.

A seminar focusing on hepatitis B and liver cancer prevention in HCM City this week highlighted the problem for health workers.

About 17.6 percent of them may be exposed to the hepatitis B virus, the disease that can cause a host of effects, including possible complications of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer, warns Doctor Huynh Tan Tien, director of the Labour Health and Environmental Protection Centre.

Seminar participants learned about factors that could cause skin injuries allowing the transmission of the virus which include hypodermic injection, a piece of glass, a stitch, an injection needle and taking blood samples.

The health ministry has recognized hepatitis B disease as a possible occupational infection along with tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

Health workers are exposed to blood and other body fluids in their work, so they are at increased risk of infection with blood borne viruses, including hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV).

The hepatitis virus could five a long time in a dried blood stain, so the infectious ability of this virus is 50-100 times higher than HIV, warned the health expert.

Tran Van Thao, Deputy Director of HCM City ’s Children Hospital 2, said the medical institute has coordinated with the Labour Health and Environmental Protection Centre to administer hepatitis B vaccinations to the hospital’s health workers.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), among the 35 million healthcare workers worldwide, about 3 million experience percutaneous exposures to blood borne pathogens each year, two million of those to Hepatitits B, 0.9 million to Hepatitis C, and 170,000 to HIV.

WHO suggests most blood exposures in health settings are preventable. Protective measures include immunisation against hepatitis B, provision of personal protection and the management of exposures.

Elimination of unnecessary blood draws and injections also minimises the potential for exposure.

In Vietnam , according to Doctor Nguyen Chan Hung, director of HCM City ’s Tumor Association, liver cancer (a complication of hepatitis B) among males ranks as the third most contracted cancer, after lung cancer and stomach cancer.

The number of people infected by hepatitis B accounts for from 10 to 15 percent of the country’s population, according to the Ministry of Health.-

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