June 17, 2013
A rising rate of infection in Beirut hospitals, which have been transmitted between staff through the improper use of medical sharps, has forced the Health Ministry and Association of Hospital Owners to act.
The organisations have encouraged medical facilities to take steps to prevent the rising infection rates.
In a bid to boost sharps safety, the American University of Beirut's medical centre has organised its first ever "Sharps Safety" awareness day, which it hopes will promote the prevention of injuries and diseases spread by blood-borne pathogens.
Walid Ammar, the director general of the Health Ministry, told the Lebanon's Daily Star that the transmission of AIDS, hepatitis B and C through blood in the city's medical facilities is a growing concern.
“Workers in the health sector are responsible for taking the necessary measures to avoid exposing themselves and the others to any danger.
“The programme promoting the safe use of sharp medical equipment includes education, training and proficiency testing, and adopting mechanisms to ensure the strict application of measures in this regard."
Measures highlighted in the training include using two pairs of medical gloves when necessary, avoiding the recovery of syringes and efficiently documenting and reporting cases of infection.
Suleiman Haroun, the head of the Association of Hospital Owners, explained that thousands of staff in the health sector are infected annually, with more than 20 types of disease transmitted through the blood.
He told the news provider that a lack of planning and a failure to comply with instructions and regulations are behind the rise in infections and incidents in Lebanon.
Recent studies carried out in Lebanon into the types of injuries experienced by medical staff indicate that three-quarters involve syringes and mainly occur among interns, nurses and technicians aged between 20 and 29.
The European Union has recently introduced a new directive that aims to make the use of medical sharps safer across the continent. It was introduced at the start of May and will make an impact on many areas of needle and sharps safety.