AFRICA – The World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged remarkable improvements in hand hygiene along with infection prevention and control (IPC) by African countries in commemoration of the 2022 World Hand Hygiene Day under the theme “United for Safety: Clean your hands”

The health organization applauded Uganda for locally producing alcohol-based hand rub to promote local engagement in hand hygiene compliance along with ensuring reliable supplies for health facilities.

The local production is based on the recommended WHO formulation for alcohol-based hand rubs, quality is assured by National Drug Authority and distribution is through district supplies distribution cycle.

IPC/Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) health officers in Uganda at the Infectious Diseases Institute have supported the Ministry of Health in capacity building to address the challenge of limited access to hand hygiene products.

Japanese company Saraya is also collaborating with international organizations and academic institutes to promote local production of alcohol-based hand rub in Uganda, the first alcohol-based hand rub produced and sold locally in Uganda and East Africa.

In Kenya, the Ministry of Health recently launched key policy documents to guide the management of menstrual hygiene and guidance on urban sanitation in a bid to strengthen hygiene and sanitation in the country.

The guidelines will ensure that development plans for urban areas have in-built sanitation components and the sanitation systems are designed and managed safely to protect human health from microbial hazards caused by human excreta & consequent adverse health outcomes.

The health ministry also collaborated with integrated Health & Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) partners to develop several policy documents and strategies that provide a framework for the implementation of Sanitation and Hygiene interventions.

Kenya has partnered with health organizations to boost access to safe water, adequate sanitation and intensified hygiene education with an aim to reduce illness and death from disease leading to improved health, poverty reduction, and socio-economic development.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)declared that hand hygiene is one of the best investments in healthcare while urging healthcare workers to focus on hand hygiene which is key to preventing the spread of infectious diseases in hospitals.

Hands can move microorganisms such as bacteria that cause infection from one part of the hospital from one part of the patient to a part of the patient where it can cause infection,” noted the Antimicrobial Resistant and Infection and Control Programme coordinator at NCDC Dr. Tochi Okwor.

Dr. Okwor asserted that hygiene is the most important measure to prevent infection while noting that if health workers can render their hands safe and free of disease-causing microorganisms, they would be very successful in reducing healthcare-associated infections.

In addition, Ghana has streamlined national infection prevention and control IPC together with WASH activities through integration into quality-of-care programmes and a costed national strategy to protect both patients and health workers.

The national efforts include the creation of a national joint IPC and WASH Taskforce in 2016, producing a national technical guide, and strong leadership and finances invested to support IPC and WASH in health care facilities.

The World Health Organization has urged all countries around the globe to increase their investment in IPC programmes to ensure quality of care and patient and health workers’ safety.

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