Health Workers Risk HIV/AIDS with Plastic Bags "Gloves"
May 4, 2001
Health workers in Tanzania's rural areas may be quite aware of HIV/AIDS and how the disease is transmitted, but many of them lack the proper gear to protect themselves from infection by HIV-positive patients. In a southern Tanzania district in the Iringa region, for example, traditional birth attendants (TBAs) use plastic bags instead of rubber gloves to avoid contracting HIV from women during delivery.Adapted from:
Health officials in the area have said they appreciate the measures the attendants have taken to protect themselves from HIV but are concerned that they could still contract the virus. "The plastic bags they use are soft and can easily be torn, infecting the attendants," explained Firmat Kisika, the Iringa Rural District Maternal and Child Healthcare coordinator. Kisika said that trained attendants are usually given some gloves upon completion of their training courses, but many could not afford to continue buying them.
Some TBAs said that when plastic bags were not available to cover their hands, they used khanga cloth instead of using bare hands. "I know that khanga is not safe but what else can I do to assist the mothers?" asked 55-year-old TBA Hadija Mugabe. In Tanzania, at least 60 percent of expecting mothers deliver at home where they are assisted by TBAs.
Panafrican News Agency
05.02.01; Deodatus Mfugale