In the spirit of celebrating hand hygiene day, Dr. Nkolika Uwaezuoke, Head of Department, Medical Microbiology at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Jabi in Abuja, said practicing hand hygiene decreases mortality, morbidity, hospital stay, and, most significantly, saves lives.
She made the remarks on Friday in Abuja, at the hospital’s commemoration of World Hand Hygiene Day (WHHD) 2023, with the theme “Accelerate Action Together: SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands.”
Every year on May 5, the World Health Organisation (WHO) promotes and raises awareness about hand hygiene around the world.
The day’s goal is to rally people all over the world to improve hygiene in healthcare institutions, thereby protecting staff and patients from illnesses.
This year’s campaign theme — “SAVE LIVES: Clean your hands”, is aligned with the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, and aims to recognize nurses and midwives as frontline heroes who deserve acknowledgment and appreciation, and highlight their critical roles in infection prevention.
Uwaezuoke, therefore, said hygiene had been identified and proven to be the singular most important practice that reduces the transmission and spread of disease.
To this end, she said, it helps in preventing Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI).
She added that “non-practicing of hygiene can lead to transmission of infections within the hospital; it is not just the patient, as it spreads from one person to the other.
“So, it is important that WHO has to dedicate a day to increase awareness of hand washing and hygiene. The day is set aside to create awareness on hygiene and when we say hygiene, we are talking essentially of two things.
“Hand washing using running tap water, and where you don’t have tap water, you use what we call Veronika buckets, which are plastic pockets with taps.
“The second is the use of alcohol-based drops, commonly known as sanitizers.”
She also said that hygiene is so important that healthcare workers are encouraged to practice because by so doing, they reduce the rate of transmission of infection within the hospital setting.
On the campaign objectives of the day, she said it is aimed at strengthening communities of actors in healthcare to accelerate action to improve hygiene and infection prevention and control at the point of care.
She added that the hygiene campaign would also foster collaboration toward minimizing the risk of infections and the development of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in healthcare.
The Deputy Head of the hospital’s Clinical Services, Dr. Christopher Omage, who spoke on the theme of the celebration, said that the aim was to beam searchlight on teamwork as one person could not achieve it.
He said “The essence is to promote teamwork; involving hospital staff and the public to be aware that by just cleaning up, you can actually prevent the transmission of most diseases.
“Hospital staff should also be conscious at all times to ensure that they wash their hands to curtail the spread of infections.’’