Perceived occupational risk of infection among hospital mortuary attendants in Nyanza Province, Kenya
Jackline Mosinya Nyaberi, Rose Kakai, Charles O Obonyo, Doreen Othero
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Introduction: A high proportion of the estimated 1.7 million people who die annually in Kenya occur in hospital settings and are laid in a mortuary before burial. Nyanza Province has a high morbidity and mortality rate, due to infectious diseases. Consequently, the mortuary facilities are overstretched and staff manning them may be exposed to occupation risk of infection. The aim of this study was to investigate the perceived occupational risks of infection among hospital-based mortuary attendants in Nyanza Province. Methods: Descriptive cross-sectional study of 42 attendants purposively sampled from 30 hospital mortuaries (8 public and 22 private) in Nyanza Province. Quantitative data was collected using a pre-tested semi-structured questionnaire and observational checklist, while qualitative data was collected by key informant interviews. Quantitative data was analyzed using the SPSS package. Results: The mean age of the attendants was 38.5 years (range = 25 – 63 yrs). Thirty five (83.3%) were male and 7 (16.7%) females. Only 12 (28.6%) attendants had received in-service training on infection prevention, 19 (45%) thought that dead bodies are not infectious, 37 (88%) perceived themselves at risk of occupationally-acquired infection and none had been immunized while in employment. All the attendants recognized the importance of wearing protective clothing while handling dead bodies. Overall, only 14% of the mortuaries had running water. There were no written infection control policies in any of the mortuaries surveyed. Conclusion: We recommend continuous medical education (CME) on infection prevention, establishment of formal training and strengthening the supervision for mortuary attendants.