The word ‘Barber’ originates from the Latin word. Barber meaning ‘beard’. A Barber is a person whose occupation is to cut any type of hair, give shaves, and trim beards. They are important professionals of the community which are owned, cared and financed by the community. It is the need of their profession to utilize instruments like clips, blades etc.
Several health hazards including communicable diseases and skin conditions are associated with Barbers’ profession to which their visitors are exposed. The diseases of primary importance linked to this profession are ringworm disease, (through direct contact), infestation of head louse, staphylococcal, streptococcus, Scabies (through contaminated towels, combs, and aprons) and Hepatitis B, hepatitis C, tetanus and AIDS (contaminated blades and clips)
It is reported from Pakistan, Japan, Egypt, Israel, USA, and Italy that HCV, and from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Iran, Israel, Italy that HBV can be transferred by blade sharing and barber-related instruments
The other study conducted in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the capital twin cities of Pakistan revealed that 39.6% of barbers knew that hepatitis B and C are viral diseases, 26.6% of barbers knew that it can lead to cancer, 34.6% have heard advertisements about hepatitis. Only 9.8% of barbers had taken the HBV vaccine, and most people thought that allopathic therapy is the best treatment option for hepatitis
According to study conducted in Janjua and Nizamy 12.5% of barbers knew that hepatitis B and C are diseases of the liver causing hepatitis, 63.5% changed the blade for every customer, 7.2% knew that HBV can be prevented by vaccination, 18.7% were sterilizing the instruments, and 100% of them were disposing blades in sewerage waste
The study conducted in Izmir, Turkey revealed that 41.2% of barbers reported that they used gloves and 15.2% had used protective clothing within the last month. It was determined that 4.4% practiced dry air sterilization and 3.4% allowed their customers to use their own equipment. The vast majority (80.9%) reported that they used an ultraviolet sterilization device whereas others preferred to wash their equipment with soapy water (9.2%), wipe it with alcohol (41.7%), or to immerse it in a disinfectant chemical (12.7%). Only one-third of these employees washed their hands before and after each process
Many studies revealed that there was significant difference in level of awareness among barbers in respect of age, educational status, Work load, accessibility to media (like TV) and work experience.
[1, 3, 11, 13, 14].
A large proportion of population is enjoying the services of Barbers in our community and their place of work and profession may be a potential source of infectious diseases transmission silently in the community. The study done in Jimma, Ethiopia on knowledge of Barbers about HIV/AIDS revealed that, only 51% of the respondents knew the possible transmission of HIV during their practice
Considering the grave consequences of infections especially Hepatitis B, C and AIDS, associated with this profession; awareness about these health hazards among barbers would play a vital part in prevention and control of these infections
It is essential and urgent to promote awareness of these risks among all, especially the public authorities, and to formally ban Barbers from illegal practice. Although it will be a huge task for public health practitioners to bring about the behavioral change towards unhealthy practices, they have to accept this challenge in order to protect the community at large. Thus, the aim of this study is to assess knowledge and practice, and associated factors among barbers about health hazards associated with their profession in Gondar town, North West Ethiopia.