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National Infection Prevention and Control Strategy (2024-2028) launched in Accra

The Ministry of Health and it’s Agencies with support of the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched the National Infection Prevention and Control Strategy (2024-2028) in Accra.

According to the Outgoing Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, preventing harm to patients, health workers and other users due to infection in healthcare facilities is fundamental to achieving quality care, patient safety, health security, reduction of Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

Soeaking at the launch, Mr. Agyeman-Manu said "Available evidence from a multi-centre point-prevalence survey of HAIs in 10 acute care government hospitals in Ghana revealed that out of 2,107 in-patients surveyed, 184 Healthcare-Associated Infections were identified among 172 patients, corresponding to an overall prevalence of 8.2% (range 3.5% to 14.4%), with higher proportions of infections in secondary and tertiary care facilities"

He added that the most common Healthcare-Associated Infections were surgical site infections (32.6%), bloodstream infections (19.5%), urinary tract infections (18.5%) and respiratory tract infections (16.3%). Device-associated infections accounted for 7.1% of HAIs (MOH 2019).

"It is also instructive to note that the emergence and re-emergence of pandemics such as COVID-19 have taught us vital lessons which we have to take seriously. The development of this National Infection Prevention and Control Strategy is our direct response to the above"

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I am happy to share with you the measures we took to prioritize infection prevention and control (IPC) during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include adoption of a behavior-change led strategy, making policy changes, updating standards, training curricula and programs. As country we established a joint IPC/WASH Taskforce to provide greater leadership and a clearer strategic direction"

"The Taskforce adapted and implemented WASH FIT, a quality improvement tool, and worked to include IPC/WASH standards in key national strategies and policies, specifically the National Healthcare Quality Strategy (2017–2021), which is being reviewed and will be subjected to stakeholder validation tomorrow. IPC indicators were defined and updated within the national health information system, providing a more accurate measure of progress whiles identifying gaps for improvement"

"In addition to all these, we strengthened professional training and capacity building and took steps to institutionalize monitoring and quality control. Finally, we strengthened the observance of standards, including environmental or climate-smart WASH solutions"

The Outgoing Minister also revealed that his Ministry wa working to improve IPC infrastructure in Ghana.

This, he noted include building new hospitals and clinics that are equipped with the latest IPC facilities.

"By implementing effective IPC measures, healthcare workers can help to protect themselves and their patients from infections"

"Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, all these notwithstanding, Infection Prevention and Control is faced with a myriad of challenges. For example, the Ministry of Health does not have a focal point for IPC. I hereby direct that the Director in charge of Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation to facilitate the appointment and training of a full-time national IPC focal point to fill this gap after the launch of the strategy"

"Ladies and Gentlemen, despite these challenges, the Ministry of Health and stakeholders remain committed to improving IPC in Ghana. To demonstrate its commitment, the Ministry of Health has developed this National Infection Prevention and Control Strategy in-line with the WHO Guidelines on the Core Components of IPC programmes to improve quality of care, enhance patient safety, improve health security, reduce healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial resistance"

"Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the development of the National Infection Prevention and Control Strategy is expected to address the above challenges. This strategy was developed in line with the minimum IPC standard requirements as outlined in the WHO Guidelines on core components of IPC programmes"

Explaining further, he disclose that IPC minimum requirement serves as an entry point for building a robust IPC programme.

He cited IPC programmes, IPC guidelines, IPC education and training Healthcare Associated Infections surveillance, Multimodal strategies, IPC monitoring, audit and feedback, Workload, staffing and bed occupancy, built environment, materials and equipment.

These are in no particular order of importance, as all components should be deemed equally important for the functioning and sustainability of robust IPC programmes as the eight (8) WHO core components.

He stressed that the vision of the National Infection Prevention and Control Strategy is aligned with the vision of the MoH which looks at 'A healthy population for national development'.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, the implementation of this policy will culminate in the reduction of occupational infections in health care settings, combating Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance, reinforce other national public health programmes like HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis, maternal and child health and achieving global health security goal"

"Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the development of this strategy clearly demonstrates our commitment to improve health outcomes for health workers, patients and communities. To make this happen, we need to ensure the effective implementation of this strategy. I therefore call on all stakeholders to support the implementation of this strategy"

Chief Director at the Ministry of Health, Alhaji Hafiz Adam said "Ladies and Gentlemen, as you are all aware, IPC has become an integral part of the healthcare delivery system"

"The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent large disease outbreaks have highlighted the extent to which healthcare settings can contribute to the spread of infections, harming patients, health workers, users of health facilities as well as communities"

"As such the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that IPC programs at the national (MOH) and healthcare facility levels must have clearly defined objectives and functions that align with and contribute to the prevention of HAIs and the spread of AMR in healthcare settings"

"To this end, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very elated to share with you that this new National Infection Prevention and Control Strategy, which will be implemented from 2024 to 2028 aligns with the WHO IPC Core Components and Minimum Requirements"

Delivering a speech on behalf of WHO Rep to Ghana, Prof. Francis Kasolo, Infectious Hazard Mgt Officer, World Health Organization (WHO), Patrick Avevor said this strategy presents the roadmap for implementation of key actions and interventions for the advancement of the principles an practice of Infection Prevention and Control.

He added that infection prevention and control are pivotal to the delivery of quality health services and ensuring patient and heathcare worker safety.

"Though Ghana has made strides in infection prevention and control over the years, I wish to drawour attention to the findings from recent Harmonised Facility Assessment (HHFA 203) which involved a representative srvey of close to 1,500 health facilities across the country"

"According to HHFA, whiĺe all regional houses and 85% of district hospitals have staff trained in a certified Infection Prevention and Control course, and had designated IPC focal persons, only 28% of facilities across the country had guidelines for infection prevention and control, with guidelines available in 69% of regional hospitalsbut less than 20% availability at CHPS facilitiesan clinic/mateenity homes"

He re-affirmed WHO's commitment to supporting the building of a strong health system in Ghana where health facilities are centres of excellence.

He called on stakeholders to lend their support the implementation of the strategy.

Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith



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