WHO links hand hygiene to high infant mortality rate, global infections


 

There are strong indications that the World Health Organisation WHO is aggregating lessons from the outbreak of COVID-19 in the year 2019, a development that may have prompted its latest statistics on hand hygiene.

Joining the world to commemorate the International Hand Hygiene Day on May 5th, the World Health Organisation, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti posited that the prevalence of infectious diseases could be linked to poor hand hygiene. Insisting that ineffective hand hygiene practices were at the core of healthcare-associated infections, including newborn survival rates which could be boosted by as much as 44%.

According to Moeti, frequent hand hygiene is invaluable in fighting against epidemics and pandemics, as was observed from the response to COVID-19 and cholera, as well as the burgeoning threat of anti-microbial resistance.

Moeti in her presentation to commemorate the day on Thursday in Abuja, said, “the depth of the challenge of prioritizing hand hygiene as an infection prevention and control measure is highlighted by WHO/UNICEF global estimates, which reveal that one in every four health facilities worldwide lacks even the most basic access to water supplies, and one in every three do not have hand hygiene facilities at the point of care. The situation is even more dire in Africa, where half of all health care facilities do not have basic water access”.

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

Speaking on this year’s theme, “Unite for Safety – Clean Your Hands”, Moeti said the concept focuses more on health facilities.

She recommended that all health workers, patients and their family members unite on hand hygiene to foster a culture of good health at all times.

According to her, the 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.

Her words, “WHO in the African Region has supported the improvement of hand hygiene practices through awareness campaigns in the 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, has been conducted in the Member States including Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, South Africa and Uganda”.

Recall that during the outbreak of the dreaded COVID-19, the global health body strengthened its advocacy for hand washing and sanitization as basic preventive measures.

While the pandemic lasted, hand washing points were visible in all public places, including alcohol-based sanitisers to ward off the chances of contracting the virus.

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