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World Hand Hygiene Day Celebrated

09,May 2017
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By Kadrie Koroma and Solomon Rogers

Sierra Leone has joined other countries the world over to celebrate World Hand Hygiene Day on the theme: “Fight Antibiotic Resistance - It’s in your Hands” on Friday May 5, 2017 at the Connaught Hospital compound in Freetown.

The programme was organized by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation National Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Unit with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Delivering his keynote address, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer II, Dr. Amara Jambai maintained that the theme for this year’s world Hand Hygiene Day “fight antibiotic resistance” is apt as it serves as a preventive measure against antibiotic resistance disease.

He said there is a looming health emergency which he said sometimes comes silently but with behavioral change through hand hygiene practice the problem would be forestalled.

He craved the indulgence of all health practitioners and other categories in the sector to use the opportunity to cascade the message of hand hygiene across the country.

He concluded that, his Ministry has put in place IPC structure to overcome the antimicrobial resistance.

WHO Coordinator Health Security and Emergency, Dr. Harry Opata said World Hand Hygiene Day is a call to action to implement and sustain hand hygiene improvement worldwide to reduce microbial transmission of health-care associated infections.

He said the hand hygiene campaign each year on May 5 is one important part of improving behavior towards Infection Prevention and Control best practices.

Dr. Opata informed his audience that the day is an opportunity to remind all health care providers of the importance of hand hygiene and raise awareness on performing hand hygiene. He added that IPC impacts on a country’s ability to meet the International Health Regulations (IHR), combat Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) and ultimately impacts on the quality of health care delivery required meeting the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including the universal health coverage.

The Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Matron Hossinatu Koroma said IPC is relevant to all health systems and affects the health outcomes of patients and health care workers, pointing out that it was evident during the Ebola outbreak in the country where health care workers became infected whilst providing care for patients.

She said inadequate measures to prevent and control infection may contribute to the spread of microorganisms resistant to antimicrobial medicine, stating that ensuring safety of patients, health care workers have a vital role to play in the reduction of pathogen transmission by implementing WHO five moments for hand hygiene.

To stop Antibiotic Resistance spread by making Infection Prevention and Hand Hygiene a National Policy Priority, Matron Koroma said the Ministry has demonstrated strong leadership in IPC by implementing the first two options of the new WHO recommendations on core components for IPC programmes. This, she said include establishing a national IPC programme linked with order relevant national programmes and professional organizations, and ensure that any national IPC programme supports the education and training of the health workforce as one of its core function, thus building skills and competences and supporting the health workforce agenda.

The National Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Coordinator, Madam Nanah Sesay-Kamara said this is the third year since Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation signed up to the WHO “Save Lives Clean Your Hands campaign”.

She said this year’s theme is a call to action as resistance to antimicrobial medicine is happening in all part of the world for a broad range of microorganisms with an increasing prevalence that threatens human and animal health.

The IPC Coordinator reiterated that better hygiene and infection prevention measures are essential to limit the development and spread of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) infection and Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) bacteria. She said effective prevention of infection transmitted through hand washing must be core component of infectious disease prevention.

Giving an overview of Hand Hygiene Day celebration, IPC Training Coordinator, Matron Christiana Kallon said over 167 countries in the world have signed up and in 2015, Sierra Leone also signed up the global campaign.

She said each year Save Lives: Clean your hands campaign aims to progress the goal of maintaining a global profile on the importance of hand hygiene in health care and to bring people together in support of hand hygiene improvement globally.

Other highlights include presentations on AMR Pharmacy Perspective by Registrar, Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone, Mr. Wiltshire Johnson, AMR Laboratory Perspective by Mrs. Doris Harding, and AMR IPC Perspective by WHO IPC Team Lead.

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