“Hands are just a simple thing but our hands can change almost everything. Keep care safe and take a stand; clean care for everyone.” –It’s In Your Hands, a World Hand Hygiene Day theme song.
As part of our activities to commemorate the 2022 World Hand Hygiene Day (WHHD), we collaborated with partners at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Centre for Infection Control and Patient Safety (CICaPS), Infection Control Africa Network (ICAN) and Nigerian Society for Infection Control (NSIC) to host a Twitter Spaces event, on the 4th of May, 2022.
The conversation, which had more than 899 live listeners from Nigeria, Canada and the US among other locations, was initiated with the goal of engaging with the public on the importance of good hand hygiene practices for a safer delivery of care in our hospitals.
Persistent infections, more visits to healthcare facilities, prolonged hospital admissions, and high costs of care are consequences of poor infection prevention and control methods in hospitals. According to the WHO, hand hygiene improvement programs can prevent up to 50% avoidable infections acquired during health care delivery and generate economic savings on average 16 times the cost of implementation. Health workers, just like patients and their relatives, are not left out. In fact, they face a high risk of inadvertently transmitting or even contracting an infection as they use their hands to do a lot of work in the caring and treatment process. From holding, to touching, grasping and lifting, their jobs require them to continually make contact with sick patients, surfaces and equipment.
As we use our hands everyday, we must clean them regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizers. Routine hand hygiene can prevent up to 1 million deaths a year and reduce up to 50% of avoidable infections acquired during health care delivery. This is what influenced the need for us to begin action-driven conversations with all involved – health workers, government, patients and their loved ones.
Our Twitter Spaces conversation titled, Keeping Patients Safe: It Starts With Your Hands, was chosen and considered timely, given several factors: the role of hand hygiene as a key component of Infection Prevention and Control, the continual rise in hospital acquired infections and preventable deaths, and most importantly, to align with the theme for this year’s WHHD2022 theme, Unite for Safety, Clean Your Hands, as a way to sustain the culture of hand hygiene for safer care for patients and health workers.
Our speakers Professor Folasade Ogunsola and Dr. Tochi Okwor, who are leading experts in the field of IPC, covered the topic extensively. Professor Ogunsola is a Professor of Medical Microbiology at the University of Lagos, a Consultant Clinical Microbiologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, the Director of the Centre of Infection Control and Patient Safety and the Chair of Infection Control Africa Network. Dr. Tochi Okwor leads the Infection Prevention Control and Antimicrobial Resistance Units of the NCDC as the Program Coordinator.
They spoke on the topic and answered key questions on patient safety, the relevance of hand hygiene in achieving patient safety and Nigeria’s national efforts to achieve patient safety and strengthen quality of care at the various facilities. The opportunity to engage with the government through these experts and to understand efforts in sustaining IPC at national and subnational levels was a major highlight of this activity.
Our speakers also shared interesting case studies that highlighted the consequences of poor hand hygiene in our facilities, the benefits of keeping our hands safe, as well as how the public can get involved in sustaining the culture of clean hands in their various communities.
After the panel session, there were contributions by other IPC practitioners, and a question and answer session led by listeners in the audience who expressed gratitude to the speakers for the insights shared.
At the end of the session, participants were able to learn about hand hygiene and how it concerns them in terms of keeping safe in hospitals and their communities. They were asked to take a pledge as the call to action, towards promoting a culture of clean hands.
Did you miss the live session? Then join 1,300+ people who listened to the recording on our Twitter platform.
We plan to continue these important conversations on the Twitter Spaces platform, so follow us on Twitter and stay tuned.