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Reducing mortality, morbidity via effective hand hygiene

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*NCDC, UBTH CMD harp on regular washing of hands to reduce infectious diseases, others

The Managing Director of the Federal Medical Centre Jabi, Abuja, Prof. Saad Aliyu Ahmed, has identified hand hygiene as a simple practice that can be used to reduce mortality and morbidity in the health sector.

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According to him, most of the diseases in developing countries are infectious diseases that can be reduced by the simple practice of hand hygiene.

Speaking at an event organised by the hospital in collaboration with the Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) to mark the 2021 World Hand Hygiene Day in Abuja, Ahmed stressed the need to break the circle of transmission of infectious diseases from health workers to patients.

The MD noted that it is essential that before handling any patient, health workers should wash their hands and also do so afterwards

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Ahmed stated that hand hygiene should be maintained within the health care sector to ensure that lives are safe, adding that vaccinators in the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination should ensure that they sanitise their hands before every vaccine.

On his part, the Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said effective hand hygiene is key to preventing the spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Type 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19 acquired during health care delivery.

He noted that scientific evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that appropriate hand hygiene is the single most effective action to stop the spread of infection as well as reduce the burden of Health Care-Associated Infections.

Ihekweazu observed that appropriate hand hygiene could prevent up to 50 per cent of avoidable infections including the risk of - infection among health workers.

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He stated that despite its simplicity, hand hygiene is still poorly practised in many health care facilities adding that the World Health Organisation (WHO) multimodal hand hygiene improvement strategy has proved to be highly effective, leading to a significant improvement in key hand hygiene indicators, a reduction in healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and antimicrobial resistance, and substantially helping to stop outbreaks.

Ihekweazu who was represented by the Head of Prevention Programme & Knowledge Management in the agency, Dr. Chinwe Ochu, observed that investing in hand hygiene yields huge returns as the implementation of hand hygiene policies can generate economic savings averaging 16 times the cost of their implementation.

Also, Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Prof. Darlington Obaseki, has advocated increased awareness in the global campaign for hand hygiene to reduce infections particularly in the fight against COVID-19.

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Obaseki who spoke at the UBTH the 2021 World Hands Hygiene Day with the theme, “Achieving health hygiene at the point of care”, stressed the need for regular hand hygiene to reduce infections among other deadly diseases like the COVID-19 pandemic.

He maintained that the health institution was at the forefront of promoting hand hygiene in health care and in support of hand hygiene among healthcare workers.

Obaseki said the global campaign, aims to maintain and promote global hand hygiene improvement and strategy for a healthy lifestyle.

“We have decided as a management team to mark it in this manner because the importance of hygiene in this period we are in cannot be overemphasized, it is very apt, and we all realized what is going on in India. Let's pray not to experience what is happening in India.

“We must keep doing the right thing, by wearing our face mask, wash our hands regularly,” he said.

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