Towards accelerating infection prevention and control in health facilities in South Sudan

Over 40 health care workers in South Sudan have been trained on infection prevention and control (IPC) in health facilities to strengthen health care safety and quality during August 2019.

The Ministry of Health, with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) has trained health care workers recently on the core components of IPC programmes; key principles on IPC programme management; risk assessment and IPC in outbreak response; standard and transmission-based precautions; hand hygiene; injection safety; cleaning and decontamination; and monitoring IPC and infections in the context of outbreaks to reduce health care-associated infections.

“Preventing transmission of infection in health facilities is an important component of patient care”, said Dr Pinyi Nyimol Mawien, Director General for Preventive Health Services in the Ministry of Health, South Sudan.  “Appropriate routine practices such as hand hygiene; use of gloves, masks, eye protection, adequate cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization of surfaces and equipment are vital and critical to protect health care providers, patients and caregivers, hence it is important to provide this training of trainers to improve IPC in routine health care delivery in South Sudan”.

Transmission of infection in health facilities is an issue of increasing concern worldwide. As of 10 November 2019, 162 health care workers (HCWs) have been infected with Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It is therefore very important to improve coordination of IPC efforts and operational readiness to protect populations, in general and health care workers, in particular.

“IPC has to be looked as a holistic package of health system strengthening”, said Dr Olushayo Olu, WHO Representative for South Sudan. “We need to put in place what is required to protect health care workers and patients in all health facilities”.

Dr Olu urged participants to advocate for an improved IPC so that health facilities practice and monitor IPC in order to ensure that the correct IPC measures are in place.  He also urged the participants to have a clear plan to do things differently to improve IPC in the facilities they are working.

Improvement in health care personnel and patient safety in health facilities contributes to WHO’s strategic goal of ‘One billion more people better protected from health emergencies’.

WHO will continue its support in engaging partners and optimize compliance to the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) capacities through the IHR monitoring and evaluation framework as well as in developing and implementing the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) to prevent avoidable infections, acquired through improper health care practices, affecting patients, their families and even health care workers”, Dr Olu underscored.

Due to its very low scores on health care-associated infection (HCAI) prevention and control programmes; and priority public health risks and resources mapped and utilized, South Sudan was selected to be the pilot country for this pioneering Training of Trainers on Accelerating IPC in Health Facilities: A Step Forward to Health Security.

The trained health workers will come up with a concrete plan on how to improve IPC in the hospitals visited during the training and train other health care workers in all the states.