World Hand Hygiene Day: Stakeholders Advocate For Safe Healthcare Practices

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Stakeholders have emphasised the critical importance of hand hygiene in healthcare settings in the health sector.

This was the core of messages passed during a dialogue to commemorate the annual World Hand Hygiene Day in Abuja. The dialogue, organised by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), was themed “Promoting knowledge and capacity building of health and care workers through innovative and impactful training and education, on infection control and prevention including hand hygiene”.

National Infection Prevention Control (IPC) programme coordinator at the NCDC, Dr. Tochi Okwor highlighted the significance of hand hygiene in preventing infections, especially for health workers. She emphasised the need for competent professionals who prioritise hand hygiene as part of the initiative to Turn Nigeria Orange.

IPC Focal Person for Ogun State, Dr. Festus Adetonwa emphasised the interconnectedness of infections between healthcare facilities and communities. He underscored the need for accessible hand hygiene facilities, such as clean water, to promote a culture of hand hygiene in all community health centres.

A medical microbiologist affiliated with the Federal Teaching Hospital and Gombe State University, Prof. Mohammed Manga emphasised the pivotal role of hands in disease transmission. He emphasised the criticality of hand hygiene in breaking the chain of infection.

Managing director of DRASA Health Trust, Mrs. Niniola Williams reiterated the critical role of hand hygiene in healthcare. Williams emphasised that clean hands lead to safer care, preventing the spread of harmful germs, infections, and unnecessary treatments.

The “Save lives: Clean Your Hands” campaign encourages people to increase adherence to hand hygiene in all healthcare settings. This protects healthcare workers and patients from healthcare-associated infections caused by various pathogens.

Healthcare-associated infections, including those resistant to antibiotics, are a growing public health problem in Nigeria. However, a large percentage of these infections are preventable by improving hand hygiene practices.

The NCDC supports this campaign and highlights the importance of infection prevention and control measures, especially hand hygiene, as key strategies to tackle the growing threat posed by antibiotic resistance.

Nigeria introduced a roadmap for universal hand hygiene in 2021, aiming to invest $2.5 billion by 2025. However, lack of funding has stalled its implementation. The roadmap outlines a three-phase approach: response, rebuild and re-imagine and sustain. it emphasises political leadership, an enabling environment and increased demand and supply.

Hand hygiene is essential, contributing to infection prevention, healthcare safety and meeting global health goals. The World Hand Hygiene Day aims to enhance training and improve hand hygiene practices in healthcare settings. It serves as a platform to address challenges and promote public health initiatives.

In Nigeria, only 17 per cent of households have basic hygiene services, and proper handwashing demonstration is low at 8 per cent. Hygiene facilities are insufficient, with only 30 per cent of health facilities and 35 per cent of schools providing basic handwashing services.

Racheal Abujah
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