Rate of hospital infection alarming – Minister

Deputy Health Minister Mr Rojo Mettle Nunoo on Wednesday bemoaned the rate of infections in health facilities, and called for basic hygienic practices to stem the tide.

He said to control infections, Ghanaians needed the awareness, attitudinal change in addition to action in the quest to improve the general health status of all.

Launching the Infection Prevention Control Policy (IPC) and the Standard Operating Procedures for Airborne Infection in Accra, he commended stakeholders who worked tirelessly to see to the fruition of the document and emphasised the need for its implementation.

The documents provide guidelines required for the practice of a nationally acceptable standard of IPC in health facilities and a step by step practice needed for the policy.

According to him the production of the documents was necessitated by the increasing risk and danger of resistance strains of mycobacterium tuberculosis and other airborne infections and outlined the essential measures for reducing the risk of transmission.

He expressed worry about the eroding basic hygienic practices and rising rate of infections such as hand washing by pupils and that of food vendors and advised that the documents be used as basic training textbooks.

The Deputy Minister said a baseline assessment of the practice of IPC by institutional Care Division provided evidence that compliance among health personnel was not encouraging and noted that it was evident in the methods used for such activities such as sterilisation, cleaning practices, health care waste management and other procedures.

According to the World Health Organisation, 1.4 million people suffer from Hospital Acquired Infection (HAI) at every point in time and that the country’s infection burden cannot be over emphasised due to its contributions to patient death, disability and drug resistance to antibiotics.

“One in 10 Hospitalised patients will acquire an infection after admission,” he said, and added that their continuous stay in hospital increased hospital cost and that of the national Health Insurance Scheme.

The Deputy Minister expressed the hope that the document would be valuable in improving quality care not only because it was developed after extensive review of relevant literature and consultation with experts and other stakeholders but because its content was realistic, practical and designed to meet local needs.

In his presentation on the topic Implementing Infection Prevention and Control in Ghana, Dr Nii Nortey Hanson, Deputy Programme Manager of the National TB Control Programme said  hospital HAI’s had become a major global public health problem because of the upsurge of disease that were once better controlled.

He noted that the effect of infections on patients increased the length of stay with inconvenience to relations, extra investigations, medicines, dressing and the emergence of antimicrobial resistance from prolonged used.

Dr Hanson said contributors to infections included lack of appropriate medical devices and equipment, medical sophistication with increased use of invasive procedures, understaffing, weak Human Resource capacity and poor supply of clean water.

He said the benefit of IPC was on good health outcomes, high level satisfaction with care, enhance dignity, confidence, moral and respect from clients and less expenditure on health care.

Mrs Gertrude Sika Avortri, Programme Manager of IPC of the Ghana Health Service in her presentation on “patient safety in health facilities” said action must be taken by individuals and organisations to protect patients from being harmed.

She said the rationale for the baseline study was on the premise that past efforts to improve patient safety focused more on individual rather than systems of delivering health care and that current evidence indicating that most patient were harmed were due to the shortcoming in the ways the exercise was organised.

Mrs Avortri noted that the objective was to assess the current organisational patient safety culture in public hospitals, describe the current hospital systems for managing patient safety, determine the readiness of hospital to adopt patient safety improvement strategies and make recommendations to improve patient safety.

She called for positive organisational safety culture as a prerequisite for achieving sustainable improvements in patient safety.

Mrs Avortri recommended institutionalised structures for organizations and management for patient safety teams, effective leadership, and policy on patient safety, communication openness, and staffing.

She noted that patient participation in patient safety should also be recommended to examine existing client information systems to address the special needs of patients in the care delivery process required.

Source: GNA

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