The Ghana Health Service (GHS), in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), has marked this year’s World Hand Hygiene Day with an official launch and symposium.
The event was to stimulate action to create a culture of hand cleanliness in health care facilities to improve patient safety.
Every year, World Hand Hygiene Day is marked as part of the “Save Lives: Clean Your Hands Campaign” to emphasise the significance of improving hand washing in healthcare institutions to minimise Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs).
The “Save Lives: Clean Your Hands” yearly global campaign in 2009 was observed as part of a global effort to enhance hand hygiene in healthcare as the first global patient safety issue.
Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, Director-General of the GHS, stated hand cleanliness was the entry point for lowering HAIs.
As a result, there was a need to cultivate a culture of hand hygiene among healthcare staff as a means of infection prevention and control in all healthcare facilities.
When that culture becomes natural to healthcare staff, he said they would be in a better position to influence society.
The scientific data showed that good hand hygiene was the most effective intervention to minimise the occurrence of HAIs, and the financial advantages of promoting hand hygiene greatly outweighed the costs.
In view of that, he stated, GHS had implemented Infection Prevention Control (IPC) and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes at all levels of care in all 16 regions of the country, as well as a monitoring and evaluation system for IPC/WASH indicators in institutions across the districts.
According to WHO representative Dr Francis Kasolo, around 70 per cent of healthcare professionals do not consistently practise hand hygiene, and only 50 per cent of surgical teams followed hand hygiene best practices during a surgical patient’s hospital stay.
Infections affecting surgical sites are the most common kind of infection in poor and medium income nations, with a combined incidence of 11.8 per cent compared to 1.2–5.2 per cent in developed countries.
However, studies have indicated that consistent hand hygiene can reduce the risk of infection.
Dr Winfred Ofosu, Eastern Regional Director of Health, indicated that even though there were quite a number of healthcare facilities where water flow was a challenge, he urged such facilities to make use of Veronica buckets to ensure the safety of patients.
He advised healthcare workers to demand hand washing stations from their facility managers and leaders to secure their own safety and that of their patients, as well as improved health outcomes, through a hand washing culture and cleanliness.
Dr John Ekow Otoo, Eastern Regional Deputy Director of Public Health, also said facilities might apply specialised tactics to observe a systematic hand washing practice to establish a comprehensive approach to hand hygiene standards.