A research by the World Health Organization have said that the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent large disease outbreaks can contribute to the spread of infections, harming patients, health workers and visitors, if insufficient attention is paid to infection prevention and control (IPC).
But a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that where good hand hygiene and other cost-effective practices are followed, 70% of those infections can be prevented.
Today, out of every 100 patients in acute-care hospitals, seven patients in high-income countries and 15 patients in low- and middle-income countries will acquire at least one health care-associated infection (HAI) during their hospital stay. On average, 1 in every 10 affected patients will die from their HAI.
People in intensive care and newborns are particularly at risk. And the report reveals that approximately one in four hospital-treated sepsis cases and almost half of all cases of sepsis with organ dysfunction treated in adult intensive-care units are health care-associated.
On the ocassion of World Hand Hygiene Day on May 5, WHO is previewing the first ever Global Report on Infection Prevention and Control which brings together evidence from scientific literature and various reports, and new data from WHO studies.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many challenges and gaps in IPC in all regions and countries, including those which had the most advanced IPC programmes," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General. "It has also provided an unprecedented opportunity to take stock of the situation and rapidly scale up outbreak readiness and response through IPC practices, as well as strengthening IPC programmes across the health system. Our challenge now is to ensure that all countries are able to allocate the human resources, supplies and infrastructures this requires."
Many countries are demonstrating strong engagement and progress in scaling-up of IPC programmes. Progress is being strongly supported by WHO and other key playersThe new report presented by the WHO is the first-ever global situation analysis of how IPC programmes are being implemented in countries around the world. While highlighting the harm to patients and healthcare workers caused by HAIs and antimicrobial resistance, the report also addresses the impact and cost-effectiveness of infection prevention and control programmes and the strategies and resources available to countries to improve them.
Over 24% of patients affected by health care-associated sepsis and 52.3% of those patients treated in an intensive care unit die each year. Deaths are increased two to threefold when infections are resistant to antimicrobials.
The impact of healthcare associated infections and antimicrobial resistance on people's lives is incalculable. In the last five years, WHO has conducted global surveys and country joint evaluations to assess the implementation status of national IPC programmes.
However, encouraging progress has been made in some areas, with a significant increase being seen in the percentage of countries having an appointed IPC focal point, a dedicated budget for IPC and curriculum for front-line health care workers' training; development of national IPC guidelines and a national programme or plan for HAI surveillance; using multimodal strategies for IPC interventions; and establishing hand hygiene compliance as a key national indicator.
Many countries are demonstrating strong engagement and progress in scaling-up of IPC programmes. Progress is being strongly supported by WHO and other key players.
The report reveals that high-income countries are more likely to be progressing their IPC work, and are eight times more likely to have a more advanced IPC implementation status than low-income countries. Indeed, little improvement was seen between 2018 and 2021 in the implementation of IPC national programmes in low-income countries.
WHO is making an urge to all the countries around the globe to increase their investment in IPC programmes to ensure quality of care and patient and health workers' safety.