The Nigeria Center for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has admonished healthcare workers and by extension the whole nation to prioritise hand hygiene, adding that it was a sign of respect to those who seek care, and it protects health and other workers who provide that care.
Infection Prevention and Control (IPC)/Antimicrobial Resistance National Programme Coordinator, NCDC, Dr. Tochi Okwor gave the admonition on Friday, May 5, 2023 while commemorating this year’s World Hand Hygiene Day (WHHD) at Asokoro District Hospital, Abuja
Dr. Okwor, disclosed that the annual commemoration of the World Hand Hygiene Day aims to create visibility and promotion of a simple yet effective means of stopping the spread of germs, which is hand hygiene.
Speaking further, she said improvements in Hand Hygiene at all levels of healthcare was critical for the successful containment of antimicrobial resistance and the prevention of Health care-associated infections (HAI).
She noted that, Health care-associated infections (HAI) were a major public health problem with a significant impact on morbidity, mortality, and quality of life in both developed and developing countries.
She further averred that, when a health facility’s “quality and safety climate or culture” values hand hygiene and Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), it results in both patients and health workers feeling protected and cared for.
Calling on the Government, she stated that, now was a critical time when governments at all levels, partners and healthcare facilities across Nigeria need to accelerate implementation of lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and increase investments to close gaps in IPC, including hand hygiene. “Indeed, many facilities are demonstrating strong engagement and advancements in scaling-up those actions, but overall, the progress is slow, and our collective gains are at risk.
“To prioritize clean hands in health facilities, people at all levels need to believe in the importance of hand hygiene and IPC to save lives, by collaborating and acting as change agents in creating a culture of safety at our health facilities and communities. In other words, policy makers, professional groups, health workers and indeed patients need to unite on ensuring clean hands. Clean care is a sign of respect to those who seek care, and it protects health and other workers who provide that care”, Dr. Okwor said.
She informed that, this year’s theme for World Hand Hygiene Day, 5 May 2022, was tagged ‘Together, we can accelerate actions to prevention infections and AMR in healthcare and build a culture of safety and quality in which hand hygiene improvement is given high priority’.
She added that, the campaign was focused on “recognizing that we can add to a facility’s climate or culture of safety and quality through partnerships and building a strong coalition with all relevant stakeholders including the media, CSOs and patient groups to build and sustain hand hygiene at all points of care in the facility and communities”.
On his part, Program officer IPC, Institute of Human Virology NIgeria(IHVN), Mr Chika Igbokwe stressed that IHVN as partners with NCDC try to reinforce and make healthcare workers know hand hygiene practice is important in breaking the chain of infection.
Highlighting the importance of the practice, Igbokwe said, “Healthcare care facilities are challenged, we have the burden of care and work load is quite high, we try to make them understand that reducing the burden of infection ultimately reduce the workload because when you break the circle of that chain of infection, you are creating an atmosphere where less patients are coming to the facility and that in turn reduces the work load of the healthcare worker”.
Similarly, Dr. Elujide Oluwasogo from the APIN public health initiatives stated that,as a partner, his organisation support health facilities in implementing HIV program in Nigeria, adding that, under the country’s theme, “One nation, one plan, turning Nigeria orange”, NCDC was supporting partners to ensure that facilities APIN are supporting are in the orange network in infection prevention and control. The essence, he said was to ensure that those health facilities are strong in infection prevention and control.
“As healthcare workers, we train ourselves to be the change agent in the community, training people in the community on the importance of hand hygiene, so that we can reduce infection among our people”, Oluwasogo said.