By Chimezie Godfrey
The Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu has said that hand washing is essential in prevention and control of infectious diseases.
The NCDC in collaboration with the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), commemorated the global campaign with the slogan: Seconds Save Lives, which is celebrated annually. This year’s sub national theme is “Achieving hand hygiene at the point of care.”
Represented by Dr. Chinwe Ochu, the NCDC chairman gave insight on the importance of hand washing which according to him is cheap, yet very effective and saves patients and healthcare workers at the point of care.
He said, “Hand hygiene is one key strategy, very effective and yet very cheap, you don’t need to spend money so to say. Just a little money for soap and water to wash your hands and yet it is the most effective way of preventing infectious diseases.
“The Covid-19 has taught all of us a great lesson. Globally we have learned that it is not only the big things that matter but even small things that we tend to neglect and ignore could hold the key to our survival as individuals, as a family and as a nation.
“Our slogan for COVID 19 control was ‘take responsibility’, meaning that everyone has a role to play.
“I believe that most of us have hands, even those that do not have hands so to say also have a way of making contact with others and we are now saying that these instruments that help us to make contacts either by shaking of hands or by touching to examine a patient or by trying to administer care must be kept clean and safe at all times.
“We even said that we should try to minimize contacts that are not necessary; like the shaking of hands, but health workers always touch.
“You need to touch your patients to examine your patients to be able to make a diagnosis, you need to touch your patient to administer care, so this campaign is to ensure that while making the contacts you stay safe and your patients stay safe.”
Ahmed noted that the ‘Seconds Save Lives” slogan is important to note considering how important, yet easy hand washing is.
He said, “ Infectious diseases are actually issues that concern the whole world but particularly the developing countries.”
“As simple as hand washing, it actually serves most because infectious diseases are transmitted through contacts from the hand to yourself or a patient and transmitted to another person by shaking hands.”
“For the point of care, we are looking at 3 important elements; the healthcare workers, the patient and the procedure of treatment that the patient gets. In all of these, there is a circle of transmission which needs to be broken through hand washing.”
The Chairperson, Infectious Prevention Control Committee (IPCC) of the Federal Medical Centre Abuja, Dr. Nkolika Uwaezuoke spoke on the need to maintain, promote and sustain global hand hygiene within the health setting.
Uwaezuoke also encouraged vaccinators, IPC practitioners, healthcare workers amongst others to champion world hand hygiene day event in their various facilities.
She said, “Health care workers are encouraged now more than ever to clean their hands at the point of care by performing it during HC delivery bearing in mind the 5 specific moments when HH should be performed. This is to help prevent the spread of pathogens.”
“The specific objectives for this year’s world hand washing day is to engage multiple audiences (Health care workers, family, facility, vaccinators, policy makers, school staff and student etc.), highlight their various roles in achieving effective hand hygiene action at the point of care according to the WHO and to support the implementation of the WHO 2021 recommendation for universal hand hygiene and of the WHO/UNICEF hand hygiene for all initiative.
“There is therefore an urgent need for a call for action, this call for action will involve: policy makers; invest now to ensure lives are saved by pledging a commitment, facility managers; to ensure hand hygiene supplies are available at every point of care, health care workers; clean your hands at the point of care, vaccinators; clean your hands before every vaccine, ICP practitioners; be a champion and mentor for clean hands at the point of care, and champion world hand hygiene day event in your various facilities.”
“There is an urgent need for lives to be saved by ensuring hand hygiene is practiced by everyone, especially health care workers.”
Dr Tochi Okwor, the Anti-Microbial Resistance, Infection Prevention and Control (AMR/IPC) programme coordinator speaking on the IPC’s ‘Turn Nigeria to Orange’ program, highlighted the core components that guarantee safety of healthcare workers.
She said, “As a nation and in NCDC, we are mandated with setting up the national Infection, Prevention and Control programme. As a result we came up with the ‘Turn Nigeria Orange’
“The ‘Turn Nigeria Orange’ for us is our National Infection Prevention and Control Strategy and it is designed to establish a National Infection Prevention and Control program particularly Anti-Microbial Resistance infections to make sure that this same thing happens across health facilities in this country.”
“As a result we have set up 8 core components; that need to be in place before any country or health facility can say that it has a national Infection Prevention and Control program: a program that guarantees that a health worker delivers healthcare in a safe and clean way and infections are not transmitted.”