Vismita Gupta Smith
At what points are patients at risk of infection in healthcare facilities? What is the status of Water, sanitation and hygiene in healthcare facilities? And what can healthcare providers and patients do about it minimize the risk of infection?
Hello and welcome to Science in 5. I’m Vismita Gupta-Smith. Our expert today is Dr. Richard Johnston.
Welcome Rick Let’s start with the places where a patient is most at risk of contamination in a healthcare setting Furnishings.
Well, some of the highest-risk locations are in high-intensity locations like an operating room. But also in others locations, it is possible for patients to contract an infection. Especially when healthcare workers are retiring and back and forth from higher risk environments to lower risk environments because they can actually transport bacteria and viruses on her hands.
And that is why one of the most important measures for infection prevention and control is preventive health care workers to practice proper hand hygiene. And that just means cleaning your hands regularly, wherever they are dealing with patients.
Of course, you need plenty of soap and water for this. And also alcohol rubs can be very useful as they are faster and easier to use for employees.
And hand hygiene, it is important to protect patients and their caregivers and visitors, but also healthcare Workers themselves, because doctors, nurses and other staff in healthcare facilities are very vulnerable get infections through all the contact they have with sick people.
Rick, talk to us about the latest WHO report that describes the status of healthcare facilities when it comes to this is about water, sanitation and hygiene.
Secure. Well, this report, published jointly by WHO and UNICEF, covers Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, as and waste management and environmental cleaning services in healthcare facilities around the world.
And to me, the most shocking finding of the report was that only half of the world’s healthcare facilities had one basic hygiene services. And that means only having Hand washing facilities where patients are cared for and in bathrooms.
It is therefore important that not only healthcare workers wash their hands regularly, but also patients and visitors wash their hands when using the bathroom. And that’s just not possible at about half health care facilities in today’s world.
And as might be expected, the situation is even worse in the least developed countries, where Only a third of healthcare facilities have basic hygiene services. There was better news the report on water. We found that 78% of healthcare facilities had an on-site water supply.
But this data doesn’t tell us if that water is actually clean and safe, or if there is enough of it of it to meet all healthcare needs and at all different locations within the healthcare center.
We also found that two out of five hospitals worldwide did not have basic waste disposal services. And the means only safe segregation, treatment and disposal of infectious waste as well as sharps as needed needles. And we know that if there is insufficient water, sanitation and hand hygiene or poor waste management and infection prevention and control that can lead to antimicrobial resistance, where the standard drugs used to treat infections become ineffective. And this is really serious public health hazard.
Rick, talk to us about what healthcare workers and patients can do to minimize their risk of infection.
Well, the first thing to do is make sure people are using the hand hygiene facilities where they are available.
So if you are in one half of all health facilities that have soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers available, then use them and use them to clean your hands.
And that’s what healthcare workers can and should do every day as part of their job.
But it is also important for patients and their caregivers. There is something we call the multimodal strategy, that supports cleaning hands with the right techniques at the right time.
And this is a proven approach to improving hand hygiene. And if the health center has no water and soap or alcohol rub to clean hands then you can complain.
It is not that expensive for hospitals and even smaller institutions to provide hand washing Materials are available wherever patients are cared for, including toilets.
Also, healthcare administrators have a lot of power over what happens in their facilities.
Here’s how healthcare managers can ensure that the resources they have are never insufficient everything they need, but that those resources are used effectively to improve water and sanitation Hygiene and infection prevention and control.
And they can also advocate for more resources where there are gaps. Last year, as we have seen of the COVID pandemic and Ebola outbreaks affecting healthcare facilities lack basic water, sanitation and hygiene services, they simply cannot provide safe health care.
So we need to make sure that health centers can provide quality care to everyone and that they are well prepared for it the next eruption, whatever that may be, whenever it may come.
That was Science in 5 today. Until next time, take care, stay healthy and stick to science.