Medics get the needle

21 August 2014 - 02:03 By Rea Khoabane

South Africa has the highest number of needle-stick injuries in Africa, amounting to 25% of all reported cases.

According to a recent World Health Organisation report most healthcare workers experience more than one needle-stick injury a year.

Globally, out of 35million healthcare workers, two million contract infectious diseases through these injuries every year.

The report states that "37.6% of hepatitis B, 39% of hepatitis C and 4.4% of HIV in health workers around the world are due to needle-stick injuries".

At the second Becton Dickinson safety summit yesterday, it was reported that in 2001 over 69% of interns working at Chris Hani- Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto sustained needle-stick injuries and 91% of junior doctors at Tygerberg Hospital reported having suffered a needle-stick injury.

Of that, 91% a third said the injury occurred while they were treating an HIV-positive patient.

Executive director of National Institute for Occupational Health Dr Barry Kistnasamy said South Africa did not have the occupational therapy resources to treat needle-stick injuries.

Kistnasamy reported that out of 100000 doctors in the country, South Africa only had 712 occupational specialists. Out of 100000 nurses, only 2000 of them were occupational nurses.

He said health workers faced a number of issues relating to proper safety wear.

Professor Sabine Wicker, head of Occupational Health at Goethe University Hospital in Germany, said in her country a healthcare worker was stuck with a needle every minute.