Over 16 million deaths occur every year from hospital infections.
PIC: Health state minister for general duties Sarah Opendi said maintaining high quality of care will attract communities to health services. (File photo)
KAMPALA - Health facilities have been urged to maintain high standards of care, including proper hand hygiene, to ensure safety of their service-users.
Health state minister for general duties Sarah Opendi explained that maintaining high quality of care will attract communities to health services, especially for sexual and reproductive health services such as family planning, antenatal and postnatal care.
Opendi made the remarks while officiating at the launch of a project that seeks to strengthen the quality of care for reproductive health services by enhancing hygiene at clinics and other points of delivery, thus ensuring safety of the clients.
The project, named Strengthening Quality of Care for Sexual and Reproductive Health Services through Public Private partnerships in Uganda, will involve distributing alcohol-based hand rubs to hospitals and clinics so as to promote proper hand hygiene.
The two-year project, which will end in April 2020, is being implemented through a public private partnership involving Reproductive Health Uganda, the Government of Japan (through The Japanese Trust Fund) and Saraya (a company that manufacturers alcohol-based hand rub).
Under the project, Saraya will supply hand rubs and sanitisers to 56 health facilities in the four districts of Luwero, Lira, Gulu and Apac.
Opendi explained that Uganda has made tremendous progress in increasing access to basic health care as well as in sexual and reproductive health services, which has translated into improved health status of the people.
However, she added that we are yet to achieve the ideal situation as far as key indicators are concerned.
She noted that our teenage pregnancy rate is still too high at 25% and so are the unsafe abortions that are estimated at 300,000 annually.
In addition, two in every five of the users of modern family planning services in Uganda discontinue the method within 12 months and many of these are attributed to health concerns or side-effects, which could be mitigated with quality counseling on choice of FP method.
Therefore, Opendi explained that there is need for more efforts and innovations to improve the situation, adding that the health ministry is working with stakeholders to increase access to essential sexual and reproductive health services.
Jackson Chekweko, the executive director of Reproductive Health Uganda, noted that ensuring proper hand hygiene will automatically improve the quality of care in sexual and reproductive health facilities and increase uptake of the services.
Importance of hand hygiene
Speaking at the project launch in Kampala recently, Prof. Didier Pittet, the director of the WHO Collaborating Centre on Patient Safety, noted that worldwide, there are 500,000 new health care-associated infections each day.
In addition, Pittet disclosed that 16 million deaths occur every year from hospital infections. He added that the problem of health care-associated infections affects both developed and developing countries.
Pittet noted that the main cause of transmission of infections in a hospital setting is through hands, adding that research has shown that hand washing by medical workers can reduce health care-associated infections by at least 50%.
However, he explained that research shows that health workers' compliance to hand washing with soap and water is very low.
Whereas health workers are required to wash hands every after interacting with each patient, they find it hard to do so because of the so many people they must attend to and with limited time.
In addition, Pittet said research shows that sometimes, there is no water at the hospitals or the water is contaminated. The activity also takes up a lot of time.
On the other hand, research done by Pittet and others showed that alcohol-based hand rub is better at maintaining hand hygiene by medical workers.
It is easy to use, portable ( a medical worker does not have to move towards the sink) and alcohol is more powerful in killing germs than soap and water.
In addition, alcohol-based hand rub was endorsed by WHO and it is on its essential medicines list.
Pittet disclosed that maintaining hand hygiene in a hospital setting helps to minimize transmission of infections from patients to service providers and vice versa.
He disclosed that one such infection is sepsis, noting that one in 10 maternal deaths is known to be caused by sepsis. He explained that WHO has put emphasis on five critical moments for hand hygiene.
They include; before touching a patient, before clean/aseptic procedures, after body fluid exposure/risk, after touching a patient, and after touching patient surroundings.
Pittet also advised that hand rub should be used in home-based care for patients
Locally made hand rub/ sanitizer
The managing director of Saraya manufacturing (U) Limited, Takeo Hojo noted that the alcohol-based hand rubs and sanitisers they will distribute to the facilities are locally made in Uganda from leftovers of sugarcane which is used in making sugar. Their factory is based in Kakira Sugar Works.