70% infections can be prevented if good hand hygiene is followed, says WHO

Improving hand hygiene in healthcare settings could save about $16.5 in reduced healthcare expenditure for every dollar invested

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Wednesday 11 May 2022

Seventy per cent infections can be prevented if good hand hygiene and other cost-effective practices are followed, according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Enabling and ensuring appropriate hand hygiene saved costs in all populations that were tested, from health workers to visitors, according to Global report on infection prevention and control.

Improving hand hygiene in healthcare settings could save about $16.5 in reduced healthcare expenditure for every dollar invested, the WHO report said.

Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) are among the most frequent adverse events occurring during health service delivery.

According to the report, on average seven per cent of patients in high-income countries and 15 per cent in low- and middle-income countries, will acquire a HAI during their time in hospital.

People in intensive care and newborns are particularly at risk. Up to 30 per cent of patients in intensive care can be affected by a HAI, the report said.

The report also revealed 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.

According to the WHO report, in 2020-21, 11 per cent of countries still did not have an infection prevention and control (IPC) programme or an operational plan.

Some 54 per cent of the countries reported having national IPC programmes or plans that were not being implemented or that were being implemented only in selected health facilities.

Only 34 per cent reported having an IPC programme implemented nationwide and only 19 per cent of these had a system to monitor its effectiveness and compliance.

IPC interventions can achieve a significant reduction of HAIs rates, in particular of catheter-associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, surgical site infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia in the range of 35 per cent-70 per cent, irrespective of a country’s income level.

The report called on all countries around the globe to increase their investment in IPC programmes to ensure quality of care and patient and health workers’ safety.

This will not only protect their populations but also improve health outcomes and reduce health-care costs and out-of-pocket expenses.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.