Health-care workers’ perspectives on workplace safety, infection control, and drug-resistant tuberculosis in a high-burden HIV setting
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Drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) is an occupational hazard for health-care workers (HCWs) in South Africa. We undertook this qualitative study to contextualize epidemiological findings suggesting that HCWs’ elevated risk of drug-resistant TB is related to workplace exposure. A total of 55 HCWs and 7 hospital managers participated in focus groups and interviews about infection control (IC). Participants discussed caring for patients with drug-resistant TB, IC measures, occupational health programs, also stigma and support in the workplace. Key themes included: (i) lack of resources that hinders IC, (ii) distrust of IC efforts among HCWs, and (iii) disproportionate focus on individual-level personal protections, particularly N95 masks. IC programs should be evaluated, and the impact of new policies to rapidly diagnose drug-resistant TB and decentralize treatment should be assessed as part of the effort to control drug-resistant TB and create a safe workplace.
Keywordsmultidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) HIV South Africa occupational health
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