WHO Updates PPE Guidelines for Ebola Response
On Oct. 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) released updated personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines for Ebola response, including technical specifications for PPE equipment to be used by health workers providing clinical care for patients. According to WHO, the updated guidelines seek to clarify and standardize safe and effective PPE options and provide information for procurement of PPE stock during this outbreak. Even with these updated guidelines, WHO stresses that PPE must be used in conjunction with administrative and engineering controls such as facilities for barrier nursing and work organization, water and sanitation, hand hygiene infrastructure, waste management, and ventilation.
The group that developed the updated guidelines included experts from developed and developing countries and international organizations. A WHO press release said that the Guidelines Development Group worked to strike a balance between the best possible protection for workers while allowing them to provide the best possible care to patients with maximum ease, dexterity, comfort, and minimal heat stress. The resulting guidance highlights the importance of PPE that protects the mucosae—mouth, nose, and eyes—from contaminated droplets and fluids. The updated guidelines also consider hand hygiene, gloves, face cover, protective footwear, gowns or coveralls, and head cover as “essential” to prevent the transmission of Ebola to health workers.