Home Health Hands Hygiene Can Boost New-Born Survival Rates By  44%, – WHO

Hands Hygiene Can Boost New-Born Survival Rates By  44%, – WHO


By Princess-Ekwi Ajide-Ajide

Evidence has shown that effective infection prevention and control measures, including hand hygiene, could reduce health care-associated infections by more than half, while boosting new-born survival rates by as much as 44%.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, who stated this in a message marking the World Hand Hygiene Day, also said correct, frequent hand hygiene also plays a significant role in the fight against epidemics and pandemics, as was seen from the response to COVID-19 and cholera, as well as the burgeoning threat of anti-microbial resistance.

World Hand Hygiene Day is marked annually on 5 May to foster and support a culture of handwashing, while raising awareness and understanding about the effective and affordable way to help prevent the spread of diseases.

The theme for this year’s celebration, “Unite for Safety – Clean Your Hands”, focuses specifically on health facilities, with a call on all health workers, patients and their family members to unite on hand hygiene to achieve a culture of high quality, safer care.

Dr. Moeti, decried the dire situation in Africa where half of all health care facilities do not have basic water access at point of care which deepens the challenge of prioritizing hand hygiene as an infection prevention and control measure as highlighted by WHO/UNICEF global estimates, which reveal that one in every four health facilities worldwide lack basic access to water.

She disclosed that WHO has developed and disseminated hand hygiene in health care guidelines to Member States and facilities, and offered technical guidance in the implementation of monitoring tools in countries in the African Region, just as WHO in the African Region has supported the improvement of hand hygiene practices through awareness campaigns in Member States, the training of more than 200 000 health workers since the onset of COVID-19, and the provision of WASH infrastructural support to multiple facilities, technical guidance on local production of Alcohol-Based Hand Rub (ABHR), and scaling up existing efforts, in Member States like Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, South Africa and Uganda.

According the WHO African Region Director, the Organisation has collaborated with the African Union and the Africa Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention to develop a legal framework to institutionalize Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) standards at national level, and in healthcare facilities and the legal framework emphasizes that hand hygiene is a national indicator of the quality of healthcare systems that must be formalized in all countries adding that good practices on hand hygiene need to be expanded and sustained to build a culture of compliance, to ultimately improve the well-being of all people in the African Region.

She said Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), and hand hygiene measures, are a fundamental part of the WHO’s Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) minimum requirements. The Regional IPC strategic plan includes implementation of these minimum requirements in all countries in the Region, with a view to boosting future resilience.

According to her, a holistic approach that includes improved collaboration, and public-private partnerships and investment, remains crucial to expanding and maintaining infrastructure for safe water, sanitation and hygiene in the Region. More financial resources are required in most African countries to achieve universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene services by 2030, and research on the socio-economic burden of healthcare-associated infections in African countries is also needed.

Dr. Moeti stressed that to prioritize clean hands in health facilities, workers at all levels need to believe in the importance of hand hygiene and IPC in saving lives. They are key players in achieving the appropriate behaviours and attitudes to this critical intervention.

She thanked hardworking health care staff in the African Region for leading by example, and encouraging others to clean their hands and also acknowledged the work of IPC practitioners, who tirelessly encourage health workers to become part of new hand hygiene initiatives.

The Director for African Region urged governments and partners, to invest more in the expansion of access to safe water and sanitation for the people since if all “unite for safety” by practising good hand hygiene, the Region will be better positioned to secure the high quality and safer care envisioned for future generations of Africans.


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