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Poor hand hygiene behind infant mortality, global infections – WHO

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PLANS are afoot by World Health Organisation (WHO) to aggregate lessons from COVID-19 outbreak by creating more avenues of exploring better global hand hygiene.

  WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, gave the indications in her address to commemorate 2022 edition of International Hand Hygiene Day in Abuja, yesterday.

  Warning that prevalence of infectious diseases could be linked to poor hand hygiene, Moeti traced many opportunistic infections, including newborn survival rates, to ineffective hand hygiene practices.

  According to her, frequent hand hygiene is not only invaluable in fighting against epidemics and pandemics, as was observed from the response to COVID-19 and cholera, as well as the burgeoning threat of anti-microbial resistance but it can also be boosted by as much as 44 per cent.

  “WHO in the African Region has supported the improvement of hand hygiene practices through awareness campaigns in the 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. Technical guidance on local production of Alcohol-Based Hand Rub (ABHR), and scaling up existing efforts, has been conducted in the member states including Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, South Africa and Uganda.

The depth of the challenge of prioritising hand hygiene as an infection prevention and control measure is highlighted by WHO/UNICEF global estimates, which reveal that one in every four health facilities worldwide lacks even the most basic access to water supplies, and one in every three do not have hand hygiene facilities at the point of care. The situation is even more dire in Africa, where half of all health care facilities do not have basic water access,” Moeti said.

  It will be recalled that World Hand Hygiene Day is marked annually on  May 5, to foster and support a culture of handwashing while raising awareness and understanding about this effective and affordable way to help prevent the spread of diseases. The year’s edition has its theme as Unite for Safety – Clean Your Hands.

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