Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, has called for a holistic approach to improve Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) on the continent.
She made the call in a message to commemorate the World Hand Hygiene Day marked every May 5, themed “Unite for Safety – Clean Your Hands."
According to her, the theme focused specifically on health facilities with a call to health workers, patients, and family members to unite on hand hygiene to attain a culture of high quality and safe care.
“WHO has developed and disseminated hand hygiene in healthcare guidelines to member states and facilities.
“We also offer technical guidance in the implementation of monitoring tools in countries in the African region,’’ she said.
She said that the depth of the challenge of prioritising hand hygiene as an infection prevention and control measure was already highlighted by WHO/UNICEF global estimates, adding that the estimates revealed that one in every four health facilities worldwide lacked the most basic access to water supplies.
She noted also that one in every three of the facilities did not have hand hygiene facilities at the point of care.
Moeti said it is important to improve collaboration between public and private sectors on investment which remained crucial to expanding and maintaining infrastructure for safe WASH in Africa.
“More financial resources are required in most African countries to achieve universal access to WASH services by 2030.
“Research on the socio-economic burden of healthcare-associated infections in African countries is also needed,’’ the WHO regional director said.
Moeti stressed that hand hygiene could reduce healthcare-associated infections by more than half, and it would also boost newborn survival rates by as much as 44 percent.
She added that in fighting epidemics and pandemics, frequent washing of hands is very important.
She said WHO in the African Region has supported the improvement of hand hygiene practices through awareness campaigns in member states.
WHO also trained more than 200,000 health workers since the onset of COVID-19, and provided WASH infrastructural support to multiple facilities, she said.
“Technical guidance on local production of Alcohol-Based Hand Rub (ABHR), and scaling up existing efforts, has been conducted in member states including Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Uganda", Moeti said.
“Hence good practices on hand hygiene need to be expanded and sustained to build a culture of compliance to ultimately improve the well-being of all people in the African Region,’’ she added.
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