Background: Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a crucial and widely used product to avert the rapid spreading of corona-virus disease (COVID-19). However, frequent apply of alcohol-based hand sanitizer mainly at the point-of-care can cause health risks and shortages in and outside the healthcare facilities. The present study was designed to assess the utilization of alcohol-based hand sanitizers and the incidence of associated health risks among health care professionals in COVID-19 pandemic times.
Method: A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted at the Jimma University Medical Center, Ethiopia, between April 01 and June 27, 2020. The collected data were analyzed and described using IBM SPSS Statistics software version 21.
Results: Ninety-six health care professionals with 28.69+4.048 years of mean age participated in the study. 95.8% of them practiced alcohol-based hand sanitizers to avert COVID-19 virus transmission in the healthcare setting and community. But they were challenges to practice hand hygiene with alcohol-based hand sanitizers. The common problems were alcohol-based hand sanitizers unavailability 66(68.8%), costly 50(52.1%), and skin damage 8(8.3%). Most of them experienced health risks such as skin dryness 60(62.5%), skin irritation 27(28.1%), ocular irritation 11(11.5%), cough 11(11.5%), and others. These health risks resulted in that 9(9.4%) of them did not practice hand hygiene by alcohol-based hand sanitizers (p-value = 0.999).
Conclusion: To prevent COVID-19 virus transmission by alcohol-based hand sanitizers, health care professionals faced different challenges, such as access to alcohol-based hand sanitizers and reported health risks. Therefore, the regulatory and public health bodies should promote local production of alcohol-based hand sanitizers with careful follow-up, and its health risks management plan should gain attention.