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Saving Lives with Hand Hygiene in Sierra Leone

Posted on by Dr. Benjamin Park, Chief, International Infection Control Program

“See what is in your hands“

– Nanah Sesay Kamara, National IPC Coordinator, Sierra Leone

Dr. Benjamin Park, Chief International Infection Control Program
Dr. Benjamin Park, Chief, International Infection Control Program

Hundreds of millions of patients worldwide are affected by unsafe healthcare each year, and the burden is significantly higher in countries where resources are limited. Hand hygiene is one inexpensive and effective strategy to help ensure safe care. Clean hands prevent the spread of dangerous germs and can save lives. On May 5th, communities around the world put their hands to work for safer healthcare. In the U.S., CDC rolled out a new campaign called Clean Hands Count, which aims to improve hand hygiene adherence, address misconceptions, and empower patients.

A Recovering Nation Celebrates Hand Hygiene

Float parade celebrating World Hand Hygiene Day at Pujehun, Sierra Leone
Float parade celebrating World Hand Hygiene Day at Pujehun, Sierra Leone

In the wake of an outbreak that has changed the face of healthcare in Sierra Leone, people around the country came together to celebrate the importance of the simple yet powerful practice of hand hygiene.

Twenty-five government hospitals, along with local schools and implementing partners in the community, participated in 2016 World Hand Hygiene Day. Sierra Leone’s Deputy Minister of Health, Zuliatu Cooper, and National Infection Prevention and Control Coordinator, Nana Sesay Kamara, led the celebration with healthcare workers in Freetown. Their event included a facilitated discussion about hand hygiene at the right time and stations to practice proper handwashing (pictured above). Healthcare workers and community members received posters, t-shirts, alcohol-based hand rub, and educational materials designed to increase knowledge and awareness of proper hand hygiene practices. The message was reinforced through radio talk shows broadcast throughout the day and local speakers sharing the message and resources with their communities.

In preparation for World Hand Hygiene Day, healthcare facilities conducted hand hygiene self-assessments by using assessment tools from WHO and CDC. Data from these assessments help facilities determine hand hygiene targets for the year, identify resources needed to reach those targets, and effectively work towards providing safer healthcare in facilities. With these programs in place, World Hand Hygiene Day goes beyond one day of the year. The goal is to raise awareness and encourage action for sustainable change in health systems and behavior.

Nurses at PCMH hospital, Freetown, Sierra Leone practice proper handwashing on May 5th - World Hand Hygiene Day. Proper hand hygiene in healthcare can save lives.
Nurses at PCMH hospital, Freetown, Sierra Leone practice proper handwashing on May 5th – World Hand Hygiene Day. Proper hand hygiene in healthcare can save lives.

Join the effort!

CDC’s International Infection Control Program within the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion works with ministries of health, WHO, and other partners to provide safer healthcare to patients around the world.

Learn more about CDC’s work in the area of international infection prevention and control, contact IICP@cdc.gov

Visit CDC’s Clean Hands Count campaign: http://www.cdc.gov/handhygiene/campaign/

Visit WHO’s hand hygiene campaign, Save Lives: Clean your Hands: http://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/background/en/

References

Allegranzi, B. (2011). Burden of endemic health-care-associated infection in developing countries: systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet, 228–41.

CDC. (2014, November 13). Hand Hygiene in West African General (Non-ETU) Healthcare Settings. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/hand-hygiene.html

WHO. (2011). Report on the Burden of Endemic Health Care-Associated Infection Worldwide. Geneva: WHO.

Posted on by Dr. Benjamin Park, Chief, International Infection Control ProgramTags , , ,

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