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Hand hygiene can prevent 70% infections WHO

by Haruna Gimba

By Asmua Ahmad

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said 70 per cent of infections can be prevented in health care settings when good hand hygiene and other infection prevention and control (IPC) measures are followed.

WHO stated this in its first ever global report on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) launched on Friday at its headquarters in Geneva.

The UN health agency stated that the coronavirus pandemic and other disease outbreaks had highlighted the extent to which healthcare settings could contribute to the spread of infections.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many challenges and gaps in IPC in all regions and countries, including those which had the most advanced IPC programmes,” Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said.

“It has also provided an unprecedented opportunity to take stock of the situation and rapidly scale up outbreak readiness and response through IPC practices as well as strengthening IPC programmes across the health system.

“Our challenge now is to ensure that all countries are able to allocate the human resources, supplies and infrastructures this requires,” Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

According to the statement, out of every 100 patients in acute-care hospitals seven patients in high-income countries and 15 patients in low- and middle-income countries will acquire at least one health care-associated infection (HAI) during their hospital stay.

It stated, on average, one in every 10 affected patients will die from their HAI.

“People in intensive care and newborns are particularly at risk. And the report reveals that approximately one in four hospital-treated sepsis cases and almost half of all cases of sepsis with organ dysfunction treated in adult intensive-care units are health care-associated.’’

The statement further stated that the impact of healthcare linked infections and antimicrobial resistance on people’s lives is incalculable.

Over 24 per cent of patients affected by health care-associated sepsis and 52.3 per cent of those treated in an intensive care unit die each year.

Moreover, deaths are increased two to threefold when infections are resistant to antimicrobials.

With regional and country focuses, the new WHO report provides a situation analysis of how IPC programmes are being implemented globally.

The organisation addressed the harm that HAIs and antimicrobial resistance pose to patients and healthcare workers.

It also highlights the impact and cost-effectiveness of infection prevention and control programmes as well as the strategies and resources available for states to improve them.

In the last five years, WHO conducted global surveys and country joint evaluations to assess the implementation status of national IPC programmes.

Comparing data from the 2017-2018 and 2021-22 surveys, it said the percentage of countries with a national IPC programme did not improve.

It added that in 2021-2022, only 3.8 per cent of countries had all IPC minimum requirements in place at the national level.

In healthcare facilities, only 15.2 per cent met all the IPC minimum requirements, according to a 2019 WHO survey.

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