TB staff complain over risks

2011-03-24 00:00

HEALTHCARE workers in the multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis centres (MDR-TB) of KwaZulu-Natal are complaining of a lack of incentives.

Among the issues raised by some healthcare workers at King George Hospital in Durban yesterday is the fear of becoming infected when the government is not offering them an adequate incentive for working in such risky conditions.

This emerged during a TB road show at the hospital held by the Department of Health yesterday.

The King George Hospital TB centre is the largest in the country.

Centre manager Nobathini Keswa said the infrastructure set-up is challenging.

“It’s a high risk considering the limited resources.

“Sometimes we run out of TB medication, but we have alternative treatment.

“The counselling and information we get is helping a lot.”

At the centre, multi-drug and extreme drug-resistant (XDR) patients are kept under the same roof.

Keswa said this calls for employees at the centre to be extra careful and to treat patients with extra care.

The director of TB and HIV in the national Department of Health, Dr Norbert Ndjeka, said the issue of incentive for healthcare workers in MDR/XDR centres was discussed in 2007 in Pretoria, but no action was taken.

“Medical staff working in these centres face a danger of getting infected, hence their reluctance to come and work in these centres. At some stage a concern was raised by employees in these centres to get a danger allowance incentive because of the risk.”

“Healthcare workers in the country are six times more likely to get TB than the general public. However, we need to understand that TB is everywhere.

“An important point to make is that giving them the allowance will make it easier for the department to recruit for the centre,” Ndjeka added.

Working conditions need to be improved for both patients and healthcare workers, he declared, adding that MDR/XDR centres are run by the public sector and all the weaknesses in the sector are likely to appear in these centres.

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