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Combating healthcare associated infections with IPC policies

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While Nigerian healthcare system has lost the trust of the citizens, especially in receiving quality healthcare services, there is also concern on healthcare-associated infections (HAI) becoming a huge problem just like the COVID-19 pandemic, Lassa fever outbreak and other deadly infectious diseases.

However, studies suggest that implementing existing prevention practices can lead to up to a 70 percent reduction in certain HAIs, one of which is the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Edo State, Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) policy.

Speaking to journalists during a facility tour, the Chief Medical Director, UBTH, Prof. Darlington Obaseki, explained that the IPC is a practical and evidence-based approach, employed by UBTH to prevent patients and healthcare workers from being harmed by avoidable infections, adding that this approach occupies a unique position in the field of patient safety and overall quality in healthcare.

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He said the UBTH management made considerable efforts to strengthen its IPC measures to include the reconstitution of the IPC committee in November 2019, which is aimed to aggressively promote a culture of safety, identify and reduce risks of infections in patients, healthcare workers and the community at large.

Obsaseki said the hospital management, in safeguarding the healthcare workers, patients and the community, developed and implemented guidelines for hospital infections and control, as well as ensuring basic measures that is standard for infection and control with additional precaution.

“We aimed to aggressively promote a culture of safety, identify and reduce risks of infections in patients, healthcare workers, and in the community.

We also promote and ensure appropriate staff education and training in infection prevention and control; ensure effective work practices and procedures, such as environmental management practices including management of hospital waste, support services and use of therapeutic devices,” he said.

He added that the management trained and retrained all categories of staff on infection prevention and control practices, such as “training of nurses and other cadre of staff in UBTH on hand hygiene and waste management; training of newly employed interns and rapid response team on IPC and management of COVID-19 patients and Lassa fever sensitisation to all departments.”

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The CMD said maintaining a clean hospital environment is imperative to reducing exposure of staff and patient to hospital acquired infections, as the hospital management emphasised on the maintenance of its sewage system, drains and surface environment, specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic and Lassa fever outbreak.

“Additional service done by the UBTH include regular disinfection of all surfaces in wards, clinics and other areas within the hospital with 0.5 percent hypochlorite; twice-daily disinfection of the isolation ward and terminal disinfection of wards and clinic following exposure; General hospital-wide disinfection and also disinfection of the house officers’ residence to mitigate an outbreak of covid-19 among house officers were carried out.

“SOPs on disinfection of frequently touched surfaces and operating theatres have been provided and are being adhered to, while surveillance activities carried out were weekly/monthly reporting of data for Integrated Data Surveillance Reporting (IDSR) system, we engaged in outbreak investigations, contact tracing and risk assessment of HCWs for epidemic prone diseases like Lassa fever and COvid-19,” he explained.

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On how the IPC guideline helped in combatting the COVID-19 crisis in the hospital, the Deputy Coordinator of the Rapid Response Team, Infectious Disease, UBTH, Dr. Emmanuel Oduware, said the health workers leveraged on the existing IPC policy that had been put in place before the pandemic, which made it easier for the hospital to contain the virus without recording mass casualty/mortality among the patients and health workers, despite the hospital known for high influx of patients.

Also speaking, the Chairman, Infection Prevention and Control and Head of Department, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, UBTH, Edo State, Dr. Esohe Ogboghodo, said: “IPC is the way to way to curb healthcare associated infection. Everything that we do in IPC is to reduce to the barest minimum any healthcare associated infection so that clients that come into healthcare facilities do not leave in a worst state.

“We started hand hygiene campaign because the healthcare workers hands are the major vehicle of transmitting infections in a health facility. Healthcare workers directly or indirectly transmit infections to patients by being unhygienic.

“We developed an infection control policy guideline by the hospital management to ensure all our infection control practices are documented. This helped a lot when the COVID-19 came on us because the way to prevent COVID-19 and other communicable diseases is to ensure our hands and environments are clean,” she said.

She further added that the UBTH also developed a passive surveillance mechanism in which the reports are sent to the hospital management monthly to further strengthen efforts to combat the infections through educative campaigns across all departments in the health facility.

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