Rony Zachariah: urgent for WHO to focus on health worker safety

This morning Ruvandhi and I attended the operational research course given by Tony Harries and Rony Zachariah. The course is focused on training people to collect and analyze public health data and publish the results.

Afterwards, along with Jurgens, we spoke with Rony about the crisis that is nosocomial TB transmission in health facilities.

After discussing Ebola and XDR-TB, we came to the conclusion that there is urgency for WHO to set up a dedicated unit that will liase with Ministries of Health. This unit will be an umbrella body that will focus on health worker safety and infection control, not only for TB transmission, but for all infectious diseases. Health worker safety needs serious attention and won’t work by piggybacking atop routine programmatic activities. We need the political will, resources, monitoring and evaluation, and accountability.

Such a unit would have a team of experienced practitioners from a variety of disciplines. It would have a generous budget. From a TB perspective, the unit could focus on counting the number of health care workers who acquired LTBI or active TB, implementing FAST in every facility, natural ventilation, UVGI, etc. Small implementation teams could use the Atul Gawande model from Sharing Slow Ideas. We emphasize the importance of human-to-human “accompaniment”  — similar to the Partners in Health model.

The US government, European governments, and private individuals/foundations should take the lead in financing this to get it off the ground but it needs a stable funding stream.

What do you think?



Thanks so much for visiting my website! Writing and reading blog posts does take time and we all know that time is in short supply. You and I will both get much more out of this blog if it leads to dialogue. If you found my post useful and wouldn’t mind leaving a brief comment or sharing on social media, I would be grateful. Or if you’re shy about Tweeting but are willing to email me a comment that I can post anonymously or send an anonymous Surveymonkey, that would be great. My posts are generally written quickly, so if you find any factual or grammatical errors, please do let me know. Best regards, Philip Lederer

One thought on “Rony Zachariah: urgent for WHO to focus on health worker safety

  1. Great initiative, it is a huge need indeed to have a occupational health unit for health workers. Ebola outbreak has shown that this is an serious issue in fragile health systems. Advocacy for this unit under WHO and Ministry of Health would be a significant step to improve health systems and health workers motivation.

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