Infection prevention and control knowledge and practices among healthcare waste handlers in health care facilities in Kabarole district
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Introduction: Infection prevention and control (IPC) is an important precautionary aspect in reducing morbidity and mortality resulting from hazardous health care waste. Health careworkers, patients, environment and health care waste handlers are all at risk of acquiring healthcare acquiredinfections (HAIs), and other risks like injuries from sharps resultingfrom waste generated in health care facilities, if poorly managed(WHO, 2017). Waste handlers play a significant role in the management of this waste through cleaning, collection, transportation and sometimes disposal of this waste within and from the facility. Effective IPC measures for waste handlers include; proper use of personal protective equipment, waste segregation in at least three colour coded bins, proper waste transport and disposal methods like incineration. Therefore, health care waste handlers should have adequate knowledge and practices regarding IPC in health care waste management to prevent health care waste associated risks. Though considerable attention is paid to the safety of health care workers, the welfare and safety of the waste handlers is given less attention and the infection prevention and control knowledge and practices among health care waste handlers is not well documented. Study objective: Thisstudy assessedinfection prevention and control, knowledge and practices among health care waste handlers in Kabarole district health care facilities. Methods: Thisstudy wascross-sectional in design and involved both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods. It was carried out in Kabarole District in 15selected health care facilities. Results: A total of 81 health care waste handlers participated in this study, 61(75.3%) were females. Their level of knowledge was adequate (90%). About 92.6% received training on IPC waste management, whereas 95.1% had knowledge on infections transmitted through hazardous health care waste, 76.6%, 95.1%, and54.3% always used heavy duty gloves, boots and apron respectively. Nearly 96.3% knew about color coding of waste segregation.Key informant interviews indicated that regular training of health care waste handlers about IPC was important. Most key informants always used PPE while handling health care waste to minimize the risks associated with HCW. Conclusion: There is need for health care facilities to strengthen infection prevention and control practices among health care waste handlers so that there is universal practice of IPC waste management procedures like use of aprons at all times.