Health Professionals in Ethiopia Show Solid Knowledge of Hepatitis B in Hospital Survey

Health Professionals in Ethiopia Show Solid Knowledge of Hepatitis B in Hospital Survey

The majority of healthcare professionals working at University of Gondar Hospital in Ethiopia are knowledgeable of hepatitis B transmission and its risks, and the importance of a vaccination program — all important points for people in an area of the world where thousands are infected in the workplace each year — a recent survey found.

The study reporting survey results, “Knowledge and attitude of health care professionals regarding hepatitis B virus infection and its vaccination, University of Gondar Hospital, Ethiopia,” was published in the journal Hepatic Medicine: Evidence and Research.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major public health problem, affecting approximately 10% of the world population. A World Health Organization report, issued in 2009, noted that around two billion people were infected with HBV worldwide, more than 350 million have a from chronic lifelong infection, and more than 1 million die of cirrhosis and liver cancer every year.

HBV is also a leading public health problem in Ethiopia, with healthcare professionals (HCPs) at increased risk of acquiring hepatitis B infection due to occupational exposure. These workers are often in direct contact with infectious material, especially HBV-infected blood or, via a needle stick injury, with HBV-contaminated body fluids.

To assess these professionals knowledge of the disease, Mohammed Biset Ayalew and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study among 297 HCPs working at Gondar Hospital. The researchers asked all participants to answer a questionnaire covering sociodemographic characteristics, knowledge, and attitude-related questions.

Results found that 73.1 percent of participants reported showed a solid knowledge of HBV transmission, progress, and its vaccination.The major sources of information about HBV were formal education (83.5%), followed by training (30.6%), and the internet (17.2%).

Most HCPs (92.9%) knew that the virus can be transmitted by infected blood, but only 24.2 percent  knew that urine is noninfectious. And about one-fifth (21.5%) of the medical staff did not know the number of doses of the vaccine required for complete HBV protection, although 94 percent consider vaccinations against the virus to be essential..

A vast majority, 91.3 percent, also thought their job put them at increased risk of infection. In fact, almost half of HCPs (49.2%) surveyed reported being exposed to risky conditions and considered being busy or rushing at work as among the most likely factor of possible exposed to HBV.

Medical doctors were the most knowledgeable within all categories of healthcare professionals, showing an 8.4 times better knowledge of HBV and its vaccination, the researchers reported.

“A good knowledge of HBV virus and modes of infection as well as adequate vaccination may reduce infection rate,” the researchers said, noting this disease is estimated to infect some 6,200 health workers in sub-Saharan Africa each year.

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