Government to immunise healthcare workers against Hepatitis B

Written By: Christine Muchira
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The Ministry of Health and the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is set to vaccinate over 3000 healthcare workers against Hepatitis B.

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The vaccination program was developed for nine supported sites across counties, with a spectrum of HBV prevalence from 0.8% to 6.3% with an aim of improve infusion safety, by reducing infusion-related complications and needle stick injuries.

The nine counties include; Nyeri, Nairobi, Kiambu, Embu, Meru, Nakuru, Kisumu, Trans Nzoia and Mombasa.

According to the Chief Administrative Secretary Ministry of Health Dr. Mercy Mwangangi, the move will help protect workers from the prospect of getting infected from the over 1-million injury-related ailments that are registered in the country which she said can be a threat to the health of healthcare workers.

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Mwangangi was speaking during the launch of the public private partnership on infection prevention and control in clinical practice through, safe phlebotomy, injection, and infusion practices as well as healthcare workers immunisation program, a partnership between the Ministry of Health in conjunction with Center for Disease Control (CDC) and National AIDS Control Program (NASCOP).

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¨This partnership will further collaborate to train on safe clinical practices for IPC (including phlebotomy, injection, and infusion); specimen handling practices; improve needlestick prevention programs, improving the national surveillance of needle stick injuries, and provision of appropriate PEP; support health worker immunization against hepatitis B virus; and develop policies and procedures,¨ Dr Mwangangi said.

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In addition to the 7,000 healthcare workers previously trained, another 10,000 healthcare workers will be trained on infusion safety.

This will include pre-testing reagents, Hepatitis B vaccines, Immunization cards and establishment of Healthcare worker Immunization database.

It will use the CARE for The CARER APP(C4C), which will also be utilized in surveillance of occupational exposures, and post exposure treatment to prevent disease (prophylaxis).

CAS noted that lessons learnt during this period of the Covid-19 pandemic, have made infection prevention and control an obligation.

Adding that the basis of informed quality patient care, as well as healthcare workers safety, is a high priority issue for the health sector.

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The partnership she said will play an essential part in ensuring that many health objectives are met through knowledge sharing, competencies and best practices.

Kenya and CDC have invested 1.8 million US dollars (about Ksh 194 Million) in infection control program.

Hepatitis B virus prevalence in Kenya remains relatively high amongst the population.

Health care workers, inherently by nature of occupation, are at a high risk of infection.

Surveillance data shows that only 20% of Health Care Workers, who had an accidental needle stick injury, were vaccinated for Hepatitis B.

This even as Kenya´s Covid-19 cases hit 36,301 after 96 people tested positive from a sample size of 3,270 tested in the last 24 hours.

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