The first edition of this vital Union technical guide, entitled Basic occupational safety and health for respiratory diseases: a desk guide for health facilities, has been published and is available online.
Healthcare workers are the foundations of national healthcare systems. Despite their importance, they often work in difficult situations, exposed to many risks to their own health when offering care and treatment to others. These risks have been made even more apparent in the last 18 months with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. People who work in various types of health facilities and provide services for sick people have a right to a safe work environment. This safe work environment also contributes to patient safety.
This desk guide outlines a comprehensive approach to respiratory health, which health facilities can adapt and implement in resource-limited settings. The topics that are covered include definitions of occupational safety and health, basics of respiratory micro-organisms and how they are transmitted, basics of infection prevention and control, and management and monitoring of respiratory conditions among health care workers. The desk guide is based on existing good practice and summarises guidance from health agencies, like the World Health Organization (WHO) and United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but also from labour organisations like the International Labour Organization (ILO). Its guidance can be adapted to local situations in low- and middle-income countries. Its development was supported by a review committee consisting of Union members with interest and expertise in this subject matter.
The desk guide has been written in plain language and its primary audience includes healthcare workers who provide occupational health care services at all levels of health services in resource-limited settings. Such as: infection prevention and control officers and their supervisors, community health care workers, members of national medical and nursing associations, councils and other health-related national bodies, ministry of health and labour staff, policy makers, programme managers and hospital and clinic administrators.
Dr Grania Brigden, Director of the Department of Tuberculosis at The Union and one of the authors of the guide, said: “Healthcare workers are a corner stone of all health systems and are an asset that no country or system can afford to lose. During the past months, we have witnessed the devastation caused by loss of life among people who care for others and this has to be brought to end. My wish is that this resource can make a contribution in saving lives of healthcare workers.”
Susan Maloney, Chief of Global TB Branch at CDC, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic shone a light on the importance of keeping our healthcare workers as safe as possible. Respiratory occupational health and safety is a vital part of this, which is why we were delighted to support The Union with the first edition of this guide. I hope it is embraced as a fundamental tool in implementing safe working environments for our most treasured asset – our healthcare workers.”
This publication was made possible with support from the CDC. ‘Basic occupational safety and health for respiratory diseases: a desk guide for health facilities’ is available to download free-of-charge.