World Medical Association expands TB Training for Physicians


(24.05.2011) With the re-emergence of tuberculosis as a serious global disease, killing 4,500 people a day, the World Medical Association has stepped up its programme to train physicians on how to diagnose and treat the disease.

It has launched new interactive training material to support physicians in their daily work with TB and multidrug resistant TB patients and it is also helping to organise a rare workshop in China.

Dr. Julia Seyer, medical advisor at the WMA, said:

‘Teaching styles have changed and there is an increasing demand among physicians for interactive e-learning methods. So together with New Jersey Medical School and their Global Tuberculosis Institute, and INMEDEA, a company creating interactive software for medical professionals, we have developed interactive training material based on two TB patient cases.

‘There is concern that many doctors are no longer being taught to diagnose and treat tuberculosis, so this new multimedia technology will allow busy physicians to go online and solve real patient cases, from undertaking a physical examination, making the diagnosis and deciding on a treatment plan. We hope this will complement the existing textbook-based courses that are available.'

Meanwhile the WMA, together with the International Council of Nurses and the International Hospital Federation, is organising a two-day workshop in China to train health care workers on the need to improve tuberculosis infection control practices in health care institutions.

The workshop, in Hangzhou city in Zhejiang Province, from 24 to 26 May, will bring together hospital managers, nurses, physicians, laboratory personnel and community workers, as well as representatives from the Chinese Society of Tuberculosis, the Chinese Medical Association and the Clinical Center on TB in China.

The training course will examine the level of infection control in hospitals and the challenges of implementation. There will also be discussion on the ethical obligation on health care workers to provide care for TB patients, even if it involves health risks to themselves, and the fact that by their choice of profession they are implicitly accepting some degree of health risk in treating TB patients.

The course will also discuss other moral obligations, such as to health care workers' families and the fact that workers cannot be expected to assume risks that are avoidable through basic infection control measures. Their governments and health-care institutions also had obligations to minimize risks by providing the right working conditions, supplies, equipment and training.

Also organising the event will be the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the Chinese Medical Association, with financial support from the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership.

Dr. Seyer said:

‘One key question we will be exploring is where the limits of duty lie on health care workers to treat TB patients if infection control practices are inadequate.

‘China has the second largest number of TB cases in the world, and is also one of the countries with high levels of drug resistant TB. The Chinese government has made the fight against TB one of its priorities. Against this background there is an urgent need to reduce TB transmission in health care facilities.

‘A number of studies have highlighted the risk of TB transmission from patients to health care workers and from patients to patients. Hospitals with inadequate infection control are risky environments for the emergence and transmission of tuberculosis. Health professionals providing care to people infected by TB are a high risk group and it is therefore vital that we train them in health and safety measures.'

The workshop will identify good practice and draw up recommendations for new strategies for workplace improvements. The health professionals attending will as far as possible be teams of hospital managers, nurses, physicians and laboratory persons from the same facility.

The discussion of the training course on rights and obligations in health care settings in TB are linked to the WHO guidelines on ethics in TB, published in 2009, that called on countries to institute programs for regular TB screening of health care workers and for routinely recording and reporting this data.