This study investigates the role of public health workers in tuberculosis management and prevention. Two hundred and twenty nine (229) randomly selected (stratification) health workers were administered a 54-item questionnaire. The questionnaire comprised sections designed to provide relevant information of concern to the study such as knowledge of Tuberculosis infection prevention and control, practices and challenges. Results showed that health workers had fairly good knowledge of Tuberculosis infection prevention and control. This was significantly influenced by participants’ sex, current ward of work and job title but not age and number of years of work. Practices used by the health workers were generally good and appropriate especially regular hand washing hygiene, education of Tuberculosis patients and use of information, education and communication materials. What was lacking was wearing of a N95(Non oil close fitted mask with 95% filter efficiency that protects from inhaling infectious droplet nuclei) and FFP2 (an oil and non oil aerosol mask or respirator with 94% filter efficiency that protects from inhaling infectious droplet nuclei) when working in high risk Tuberculosis areas, offering of surgical mask to Tuberculosis suspects or cases when they are in the hospital and separation of group suspected or confirmed Tuberculosis patients from other patients. Identified challenges included inadequate education/training programmes for health workers about Tuberculosis infection, prevention and control, improper ventilation due to overcrowding at the out patients department, lack of protective equipment (FFP2 or N95 masks, gloves), non availability of Tuberculosis wards for infected patients, stigmatization of staff working on Tuberculosis patients and poor resourced laboratory for Tuberculosis testing. It was concluded that health workers need to improve their knowledge on Tuberculosis infection prevention control whilst stakeholders institute measures geared to wards improvement of facility and logistic deficit.
Background to the study
Tuberculosis or TB is a common and often deadly infectious disease caused by various strains of Mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis in humans. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. It is spread when the bacteria get into the air, and when people who have the disease cough, sneeze, or spit. A person can become infected with tuberculosis bacteria when he or she inhales minute particles of infected sputum from the air. People who are close to the infected person, are more likely to be infected when they breathe the bacteria into their lungs. Most infections in humans result in an asymptomatic, latent infection, and about one in ten latent infections eventually progresses to active disease, which, if left untreated, kills more than 50% of its victims. (Mims, 1993)
Persons with latent TB infection do not feel sick and do not have any symptoms, but usually have a positive reaction to the tuberculin skin test. They are infected with Mycobacterium
tuberculosis, but do not have active TB disease. Those with latent TB infection are not infectious
and cannot spread TB infection to others. However, persons with latent TB infection may develop active TB disease at some time in the future. About 10% of infected persons will develop active TB disease at some time in their lives, but the risk is considerably higher in the first two years of infection particularly for persons whose immune systems have been weakened by HIV infection. Persons with latent TB infection should be treated in good time, in order to prevent the infection from progressing to active disease. Those with active TB disease are considered infectious and can spread TB bacteria to others. The classic symptoms are a chronic cough with blood-tinged sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. Infection of other organs causes a wide range of symptoms. Tuberculosis is diagnosed definitively by identifying the causative organism (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) for example in sputum or pus. When this is not possible, a probable – although sometimes inconclusive diagnosis may be made using imaging such as X-rays or scans and/or a tuberculin skin test (Mantoux test).Treatment is difficult and requires long courses of multiple antibiotics. Contacts are also screened and treated if necessary. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in (extensively) multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis. Prevention relies on screening programs and vaccination, usually with Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine
With the discovery of chemotherapy in the 1940s and adoption of the standardized short course in the 1980s, it was believed that TB would decline globally. Although a declining trend was observed in most developed countries, this was not evident in many developing countries (Chadha, 2009). In developing countries; about 7% of all deaths are attributed to TB which is the most common cause of death from a single source of infection among adults. (Kaye et al., 1996).
The end TB Strategy target is to accelerate the annual decline of TB incidence rates from 2% in 2015 to 10% per year by 2025, WHO (2016). This strategy addresses the challenges facing many countries with high tuberculosis (TB) burden including Nigeria, which remains one of the worst TB affected countries in the world, Onyedum CC (2017). Evidence suggests that the TB prevalence and mortality rates in Nigeria were previous underestimated.Adamu AL (2017). Despite being ranked the 4th TB affected country in the world in 2009, it was estimated that 590,000 new TB cases were reported in 2015.WHO (2013). In order to stop the spread of TB in the country, the government of Nigeria has implemented various interventions aimed at early detection of TB and overall TB control.Pathmanathan I (2017). Although these initiatives contribute greatly to the management of TB, several studies carried out in Nigeria and other countries have presented TB related challenges. Kigozi G (2017), This includes patients’ related factors such as inadequate TB knowledge as well as perceptions and attitude towards treatment. Consistently, inadequate knowledge of TB treatment especially treatment duration has been associated with treatment interruption. Sub- optimal patients’ compliance is a practical implication of poor TB knowledge. In real terms, when patients observe improvement in their health arising from the effective use of TB-medications within few weeks of treatment at the DOT centres, they stop taking medication. Patients whose treatment is interrupted remain infectious for longer period. They are more likely to relapse or succumb to tuberculosis as a result of treatment failure, hence foster the emergence of drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Statement of the Problem
The World Health Organization (WHO) in 1993 declared TB a global emergency in recognition of its growing importance as a public health problem. In 2009, WHO revised TB Infection Prevention Control policy, guidelines and implementation strategies. The WHO stipulated guidelines adopted by Nigeria were to ensure safe practices among health care workers, patients and families. This was disseminated in all the states in 2010 to ensure that TB control strategies are implemented in all health institutions throughout the country including the ability to control nosocomial infections as part of quality health care service to the people (WHO, 2006). TB Infection Prevention Control is one of the major strategies to prevent and control TB disease in patients and healthcare workers (HCWs) in the health care setting (Federal Ministry of Health, 2010). However, tuberculosis transmission among HCWs, patients and families is still a threat especially to nurses who have the closest and longest contact with patients than other care givers (Lopez, 2008).
In the state where the current study was conducted, there was no available official data on students infected with TB. The TB coordinator of the school clinic indicated that this was so because the TB reporting format does not include the patients‘ occupation (personal communication). The researcher, a student has observed that some practices among students were contrary to the recommended standard guidelines and strategies on TB infection control despite the adoption and dissemination of TB infection prevention control in Nigeria two years ago. However, the question is what is the role of public health workers in tuberculosis management and prevention?.
Objectives of the Study
The main objective of the study was to assess the Knowledge on the standard precaution on tuberculosis among primary health care workers of Bosso LGA of Niger state. In line with this objective, the study considered the following specific objectives are to;
i. Assess the knowledge of public health workers on tuberculosis disease prevention and control in Bosso LGA of Niger state.
ii. Describe the practices employed by public health workers for the prevention of TB disease in Bosso LGA of Niger state.
iii. Identify challenges encountered by health care workers in implementation of the TB- IPC strategies in Bosso LGA of Niger state.
The current study therefore sets out to find answers to the following research questions:
i. What knowledge do public health workers have regarding TB infection prevention and control strategies?
ii. What are the practices employed by public health workers in the Bosso LGA of Niger state in implementing infection prevention and control of TB?
iii. What are the challenges healthcare workers encounter in the implementation of TB infection prevention and control strategies?
There is no significant association between gender and awareness and perception of tuberculosis.