Keeping Health Workers Safe

AmeriCares health worker safety program helps to keep a nurse, her family and patients safe in Tanzania

When Fatuma leaves her job as a nurse every night to tuck her daughters into bed, she hopes she is not bringing home an illness that will harm them. With help from AmeriCares, Fatuma will soon be certain that not only is she safe at her job, but her family, patients 

and neighbors are protected from infectious disease as well. “If we are safe, the community is safe,” she says. “That’s how the cycle goes.”

AmeriCares, a global health organization based in Stamford, CT, has been improving health worker safety in Tanzania since 2009. After our pilot safety program at Bugando Medical Centre in Mwanza proved successful, the program expanded to three more hospitals. AmeriCares is building on this success at Musoma Hospital in Musoma, Tanzania, where Fatuma works in the labor ward as part of a team of 20 nurses that delivers 10 to 13 babies a day.

Before the AmeriCares program began in Musoma, staff would ask patients to bring gloves and other safety gear with them, because the hospital’s shelves were often empty. Without protection and safety procedures, diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C can easily spread in a labor ward – from patient to health worker or health worker to patient. “I cry for personal protective equipment,” Fatuma. “It is essential.” Fatuma is one of 1,750 health workers and students now taking part in our health worker safety program. AmeriCares will vaccinate staff against hepatitis B and supply the hospital with gloves, waste bins, and other equipment, as well as training proven to create a culture of safety. AmeriCares is doing similar training in Sierra Leone, where unsafe conditions contributed to the spread of Ebola last year.

“Safe hospitals and clinics improve health in communities,” says Elikem Tomety Archer, AmeriCares senior director of global programs. “Our program strengthens health systems and will help protect communities from disease outbreaks now and for years to come.”

“Safety is always needed. Safety is what we are longing for,” says Fatuma. “If I am not safe, how long will I live? Who will take care of my kids?”

Fatuma is among the millions of people who are reached each year by AmeriCares global and emergency programs, which aim to increase access to care and promote sustained improvements in health outcomes among people, families and their communities.

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