By Asma’u Ahmad
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has launched the ‘Turn Nigeria Orange’ Project to strengthen the culture of hand hygiene and Infection Prevention and Control (IPC).
The “Turn Nigeria Orange” project which was launhed at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada to stress the need for proper hand hygiene.
Speaking at the event, the Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Dr Lanre Tejuoso, said the Federal Government is concerned at the recent spate of infections in Nigeria.
Tejuoso said that most health workers risk their lives while trying to save the lives of patients in their health instititions.
“No healthcare worker in Nigeria should risk his or her life in the discharge of duties in saving the lives of Nigerians.
“We will work together to strengthen capacity of our healthcare institutions to keep our healthcare workers safe as they work to protect the lives of Nigerians,” Tejuosho said.
He said that prevention is cheaper than cure and urged the Nigerian government to promote hand hygine generally to protect the citizens.
“We must wash our hands at all time. We will ensure that this hand washing orange project catches everyone in the society,” he added.
The Chief Executive Officer, NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu stressed the importance of the campaign and calls on health facilities to prevent HCAIs through hand hygiene and action on infection prevention and control.
Ihekweazu who noted the theme for 2019 World Hand Hygiene Day as “Save Lives: Clean your Hands” noted that during the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, people were washing their hands regularly but the practice stopped.
He also said that by the ‘Turn Nigeria Orange’ project, the hand washing culture would be brought back, healthcare associated infections are preventable.
He said that NCDC is committed to working with States and healthcare institutions across Nigeria to ensure facilities are equipped and empowered to safeguard all healthcare workers,” he said.
He said that NCDC which has the mandate to prevent, detect and respond to diseases of public health importance has prioritised the implementation of strong IPC culture within healthcare facilities across Nigeria.
According to him this would help control the spread of highly infectious diseases like Lassa fever among others.
Ihekweazu added that NCDC would take the project across Nigeria for effectiveness and that it would continue to strengthen its IPC unit and will also support health facilities in setting up IPC programmes.
On her part, the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) leader at the NCDC, Dr Tochi Okwor, said that unveiling of the ‘Turn Nigeria Orange’ project is one of the greatest things in the sector.
Okwor said that the project was conceived as way of institutionalising hand hygiene in Nigeria through engagement of health facilities.
“We are going to work with health facilities. We will help them set up an infection control programme. For those that already have, we will help them strengthen them.
”The more health facility that we reach, the more Nigerians will be getting deeper and deeper in the orange zone,” she said.
Okwor added that eight facilities were targeted but twenty institutions have already signed up.
Responding, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), represented by Dr Nicholas Bamlong, Chairman Medical Advisory Council (CMAC) at UATH, said that the hospital was happy to be part of the project.
Bamlong emphasised the need for continued training of health workers to keep the project abreast with hand hygiene.
The ‘Turn Nigeria Orange’ project is a key activity to achieving the Universal Health Coverage.