Hand Hygiene Critical in Preventing Sepsis

WASHING hands with soap and other detergents could significantly reduce Sepsis which has been identified as the leading cause of maternal and child morbidity and mortality in Zimbabwe and the world at large, a top health ministry official has said.

By Michael Gwarisa

Sepsis according to health experts is whereby disease causing bacteria and infection spreads through the rest of the body. Sepsis occurs when chemicals released in the bloodstream to fight an infection trigger inflammation throughout the body. This can cause a cascade of changes that damage multiple organ systems, leading them to fail, sometimes even resulting in death.

In a speech read on his behalf by Director in the ministry, Dyson Roderick at the World H Hygine day celebrations at Wilkins Hospital in the capital, Health and Child Care minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa said improper hand hygiene at health institutions and at home put citizens at numerous health risks.

“Sepsis, is a life threatening complication of w wide range of infections and affects over 30 million people worldwide. In Zimbabwe, Sepis contributes significantly to maternal and child morbidity and mortality through puerperal and neonatal sepsis but can also be a consequence of other infections from typhoid to tuberculosis.

“Sepsis can also develop as a result of health care associated infections (HAIs) and because these infections are often associated with bacterial infections that are multi-drug resistant, they can be very difficult to manage,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.

He added that poor wound care, poor management of invasive devices can lead to infections not anticipated when a patient enters into hospital.

“Globally, health care associated infections are the most frequent adverse event in health care and hand hygiene plays a major role in prevention of these infections.

“In May 2017, WHO issued a resolution urging member states to include prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Sepsis in national health systems strengthening in the community and in health care settings.”

He also said Strategies to prevent sepsis described by resolution include strengthening infection prevention and control programs and Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) programmes and ensuring access to vaccination programs.

Meanwhile, World Health Organisation acting Officer in Charge, Dr A Adegboyega said there was need to manage and reduce healthcare associated infections which spread antimicrobial resistant agents.

“Limited information is available on the endemic burden of these infections in Africa, but a recent review that their prevalence range from 2.5 [percent to 14.8 percent, this is twice as high as the average prevalence (7.1 percent) in Europe. The burden is even more for the neonates as a quarter of the new-born deaths are attributed to sepsis.

“The theme for this year is “health care-associated sepsis prevention.” Sepsis is estimated to affect more than 30 million patients every year, worldwide,” said Dr Adegboyega.

He added that evidence on the ground show that hand washing by mothers and reduced repeated touching of the new born baby by other family members especially without proper hand washing, in addition to exclusive breastfeeding and temperature maintenance can reduce infection related neonatal; deaths by 20-25 percent.







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