Ilala, Dar es salaam—Amana Hospital, the referral center for Ilala Municipal health facilities, has not received its supplies of safety boxes for disposal of waste generated by injection activities from the Tanzania Medical Stores Department (MSD) since June 2013.
“The situation was bad,” said Tunu Mwanchali, Amana Hospital Secretary. “We reached a stage where health providers were using empty plastic water bottles to collect sharps and used syringes.”
“Getting these improvised water bottles is not that easy too. Sometimes we had to use empty glove boxes. Very dangerous, and risky” said Emmanuel Maleshi, Nurse In-Charge of the labour ward.
For a hospital that performs 120 deliveries and sees over 1500 inpatient and outpatient clients every day in a catchment population of over 1 million people, inadequate management, collection and disposal of sharps such as syringes and needles puts health care workers, waste handlers and the community at greater risk of needle-stick injuries. Such injuries can lead to transmission of infections such as hepatitis (B and C) and HIV.
Not certain of when the next shipment of supplies from MSD would arrive, the Hospital Secretary had a decision to make. She picked up the phone and called Jhpiego, a trusted partner who has helped the facility improve their infection prevention practices. Jhpiego responded promptly, donating 600 new WHO-standard safety boxes that will be used by all departments for the two months. Safety boxes are specially designed to contain all contaminated sharps in one place and helps prevent reuse. When the box is about three-quarters full, it is sent for incineration, never to be re-used.
“When we received Amana hospital’s request, we gave it high priority, knowing the risks health providers, clients and waste handlers are exposed to when waste management supplies such as safety boxes are out of stock. We believe the 600 safety box donation will be able to support the hospital until the next supplies from MSD arrives,” said Lemmy Mabuga, Jhpiego’s IPC Senior Program Officer. .
Jhpiego’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) program is funded by PEPFAR though the U.S Centres for Disease Control and provides technical assistance to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. Through this program, Jhpiego has helped Amana hospital and 25 additional health facilities in Tanzania to implement a Standards-Based Management and Recognition (SBM-R) approach for improving the quality of IPC practices and has supplied key infection prevention equipment, such as colour-coded waste bins, liners, aprons, gum boots, surgical gloves and caps and more.
The program aims at improving the quality of IPC practices in Tanzanian hospitals, thereby reducing the rate of biomedical HIV transmission and other infections.