Surge of COVID-19 Infections: Gov’t Starts Training Health Workers on Occupational Health

The health ministry has embarked on a training program for health workers amidst a surge in infections in this category and uncertainty on whether or not they contract the virus in the line of duty.

The program will see at least 2000 health workers training on infection prevention and control. Grace Kiwanuka, the Executive Director Uganda Healthcare Federation, says the training is scheduled to commence this Wednesday will focus on health workers in small private health facilities in the community.

Dr. Deogratious Ssekimpi, the lead trainer and expert on occupational health, says the process of organizing the training has been ongoing since the late 2020 when a World Bank Training Materials Development Consultant was approached to develop for them materials that would be most applicable for Uganda.

He says in early December they carried out a review with 5 test run virtual trainings of 2 days each that saw the participation of about 300 health care workers from across the country from both government and private facilities.

For him, with the focus on occupational health, the training comes in handy with many health workers unaware of how to protect themselves when a public health emergency hits.

Other areas that the new training that’s planned to be both virtual and face to face will tackle include clinical care psychosocial support, epidemiology and surveillance, home-based care and continuity of essential services.

Just last month, seven health workers including senior specialists in Mulago and Kawempe National Referral Hospitals succumbed to the viral respiratory disease. Over 1700 other health workers have tested positive for the disease.

Ssekimpi says the majority of these do not necessarily work in COVID-19 treatment centers but rather are infected in either the community or their respective facilities outside of COVID-19 wards. 

He says it’s because of this that they will have a module on occupational safety considering that this area has been elusive.  

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