The Occupational Health of Nurses in the Economic Community of West African States: A Review of the Literature

Laura Jean Ridge, Victoria Vaughan Dickson, Amy Witkoski Stimpfel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nurses provide the majority of health care in sub-Saharan Africa, which has high rates of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This systematic review used PRISMA methodology to synthesize the literature published between January 2008 and December 2018 examining the occupational health of nurses practicing in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The United States’ National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Hierarchy of Controls is used to frame the findings. This research was mostly conducted in Nigeria and Ghana and focused on administrative controls. Nurses practicing in ECOWAS are at high risk of acquiring a bloodborne illness due to inadequate engineering and administrative controls, as well as limited access to personal protective equipment (PPE). These findings indicate interventions to improve these controls would likely lower the occupational risks faced by nurses practicing in ECOWAS. Research in more countries in ECOWAS would likely find differences in occupational health practices in Nigeria and Ghana, which are relatively wealthy, and other countries in the region. This literature showed nurses practicing in ECOWAS did not have adequate protection from biological hazards. Regional health groups, such as the West African Health Organization, should commit to improving occupational health practice. Needle recapping and double gloving must be discontinued, and PPE must be made more widely available in ECOWAS. Occupational health professionals in the region should advocate for better distribution of PPE and consider offering trainings on these behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)554-564
Number of pages11
JournalWorkplace Health and Safety
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • built environment
  • global occupational health
  • government regulation
  • immunizations
  • national institute of occupational safety and health (NIOSH)
  • occupational hazards
  • occupational injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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