Hand hygiene a vital step in infection control

Sister Marlene Governder from McCord Hospital demonstrating the proper way of washing hands.

ACCORDING to the World Health Organisation (WHO), adequate hand hygiene can reduce the risk for health-care associated infections (HAIs) and has the potential to save 8 million lives each year in hospitals alone.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, on average, health care providers perform hand hygiene practices less than half of the time that they should.

ALSO READ: Children taught good hand hygiene

To raise awareness among healthcare professionals about the critical importance of hand hygiene in improving patient outcomes, McCord Provincial Eye Hospital hosted a hand hygiene awareness campaign, to celebrate World Hand Hygiene Day last Friday.

The Public Relations Officer of the hospital, Zodwa Mbatha, said the campaign highlighted Five Moments for Hand Hygiene which aims to ensure that every healthcare worker washes their hands before and after touching a patient, before clean or antiseptic procedures, after touching a patients’ surroundings and after any body fluid exposure.

“Today’s campaign programme included dissemination of guidance materials and a workshop on hand hygiene. Visiting various departments for judging displays and hand washing techniques. Health care workers and the general public need to be made aware about the importance of hand hygiene,” she said.

WHO estimates that one out of every 10 patients contracts an infection while receiving medical care. Moreover, up to 32% of patients undergoing surgery develop a postoperative infection, 51% of which are resistant to antibiotics.

ALSO READ: Mc Cord gets ready for hand wash relay (VIDEO)

To prevent further spread of antibiotic resistance, the health body is urging policymakers to make infection prevention and hand hygiene a national policy priority. The organization is also calling on health care facilities and leaders in infection control to implement WHO’s core components for infection prevention.

“Effective hand washing could help prevent the spread of colds and flu,” she said, and encouraged the community to speak up for their health and advised them not to be afraid to ask nurses to wash their hands before touching them.

* For hand washing to be effective, you can’t use water alone but must use soap.

* Wash hands before eating, feeding babies, playing with or feeding pets, preparing food and after visits to the bathroom



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