The World Health Organisation (WHO) says evidence has shown that effective infection prevention and control measures, including hand hygiene boosts new-born survival rates by 44%.
Regional Director for Africa, of the WHO, Dr Matshidiso Moeti who made this known in a message to commemorate the World Hand Hygiene Day said frequent hand hygiene plays a significant role in the fight against epidemics and pandemics, as seen from the response to COVID-19 and cholera.
Dr Moeti explained that 1 in every 3 do not have hand hygiene facilities at point of care especially in Africa, where half of all health care facilities do not have basic water access.
She urged governments of the African Region to invest more in the expansion of access to safe water and sanitation.
WHO has developed and disseminated hand hygiene in health care guidelines to Member States and facilities, and offered technical guidance in the implementation of monitoring tools in countries in the African Region.
Additionally, WHO in the African Region has supported the improvement of hand hygiene practices through awareness campaigns in Member States, the training of more than 200,000 health workers since the onset of COVID-19, and the provision of WASH infrastructural support to multiple facilities.
WHO calls for a holistic approach that includes improved collaboration, and public-private partnerships and investment to expanding and maintaining infrastructure for safe water, sanitation and hygiene in the Region.
World Hand Hygiene Day is marked annually on 5 May to foster and support a culture of hand washing, while raising awareness and understanding about this effective and affordable way to help prevent the spread of diseases.
This year’s theme, “Unite for Safety – Clean Your Hands”, focuses specifically on health facilities, with a call to all health workers, patients and their family members to unite on hand hygiene to achieve a culture of high quality, safer care.
Reporting by Nancy AnikaEzie; editing by Muzha Kucha