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Free Content Tuberculosis infection control in primary health clinics in eThekwini, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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SETTING: Primary health clinics in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

OBJECTIVE: To assess and describe current practices in infection control at local government primary health clinics.

DESIGN: A descriptive study using a standardised tool to assess adherence to recommended infection control policies in 51 primary health clinics in 2009–2010. Administrative policies, engineering controls and personal respiratory protection were assessed by observations and interviews at the clinics.

RESULTS: Of 51 clinics, 11 (22%) had infection control policies, 13 (26%) triaged coughing patients and 16 (31%) had a dedicated nurse and a dedicated consulting room for treating tuberculosis (TB) patients. Study clinics treated a median of 99 patients (range 3–331) daily and a median of 15 TB patients (range 2–73) monthly. Of the rooms in the clinics, all of which rely on natural ventilation, half (149/284) had ≤12 air changes per hour. Eleven (22%) of 51 clinics had N95 masks available for staff use.

CONCLUSION: Limited infection control practices exist in clinics in a high TB burden setting in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. These practices need to be implemented more widely to minimise the spread of TB to non-infected patients and health care workers in primary health clinics.

Keywords: health care workers; infection control; occupational safety; primary health care

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Discipline of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Congella, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa 2: Department of Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health, University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, Whitewater, Wisconsin, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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