Health care workers in Namibia will be better protected thanks to training provided with U.S. assistance. Earlier this month, Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services Juliet Kavetuna and U.S. Ambassador Thomas Daughton attended one of the training sessions for health care workers conducted by the Ministry of Health and Social Services in Windhoek on the use of respiratory protection. The training was conducted by the 3M and CYMOT corporations, with support from the U.S President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the World Health Organization’s 2016 Global Tuberculosis Report, TB is now the world’s top infectious disease killer – claiming nearly 2 million lives each year.
With an estimated case reporting rate of 489 infected persons for every 100,000 citizens, and a TB-HIV co-infection rate of around 40 percent, Namibia is among the world’s ten highest-burden countries.
Deputy Minister Kavetuna and Ambassador Daughton were briefed about protecting against TB transmission at health facilities through a comprehensive tuberculosis infection control program that includes administrative controls, environmental controls and the use of personal protective equipment. It is standard practice within the Ministry of Health, for workers providing care for TB patients to wear disposable, particulate-filtering respirators. These respirators filter the air and dramatically decrease the chance of airborne TB being passed from a patient with TB to health care workers.
The current training will build capacity amongst Ministry health care workers regarding optimal use of personal protective equipment. In the last month over 200 healthcare workers have been trained throughout the country on the use of respiratory protection. The Ministry of Health and Social Services is using this training opportunity as a means to better achieve this goal.
In 2017, the US Government through PEPFAR invested $485,356 in HIV and TB programs, including funds that support the Challenge TB Project. The United States is proud to work with its partner, Namibia, to help protect the Namibian people and the health care workers who serve them, from TB and other dangerous illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and malaria.