World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday released a report that found that in places where good hand hygiene and other cost-effective practices are followed, 70 percent of infections can be prevented. According to WHO, the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent large disease outbreaks have highlighted the extent to which health care settings can contribute to the spread of infections, harming patients, health workers, and visitors, if insufficient attention is paid to infection prevention and control (IPC).
The report revealed that 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 healthcare-associated infection (HAI) during their hospital stay. On average, 1 in every 10 affected patients will die from their HAI.
According to the WHO, 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 healthcare-associated.
On the eve of World Hand Hygiene Day, 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 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,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General in a statement.
The new WHO report provides the first-ever global situation analysis of how IPC programmes are being implemented in countries around the world, including regional and country focuses. 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.
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, despite increased attention being paid generally to IPC due to the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO will continue to support countries to ensure IPC programmes can be improved in every region.