Freetown, May 5, 2015 (MOHS) – As Sierra Leone joined other countries in commemorating World Hand Hygiene Day, Health and Sanitation Minister, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah on Tuesday May 5, 2015 signed the country’s Pledge to address health care- associated infection.
Signing the Pledge on behalf of the Ministry and government, Dr. Fofanah committed to work with health professionals and associations in the country to promote the highest standards of practice and behavior to reduce the risks of healthcare associated infection.
The Minister commits to foster and sustain collaboration with research institutions, training schools, educational centres, the Nurses and Midwives Board of Sierra Leone, College of Medicines and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS), universities and health care settings of other WHO Member States to ensure full utilization of knowledge and experience in the field of health care associated infection.
Enhancing, ongoing campaigns at national or sub national levels, the Minister pledged to promote and improve Hand Hygiene among health care workers, making reliable information available on health care-associated information at community and district levels to foster appropriate actions, sharing experiences where appropriate, make available surveillance data with the WHO Service Delivery and Safety Programme.
In the areas of hand hygiene, blood safety, infection and immunization safety, clinical procedures safety and water sanitation and waste management safety, Dr. Fofanah in his pledge, committed to use WHO strategies and guidelines to tackle health care associated infection, and encouraged all health care workers to adhere to the basic principles of hygiene.
Commenting on the insanitary behavior of some people, Dr. Fofanah disclosed the re-establishment of Sanitary Inspectors, now called Public Health Aides that would be inspecting residence and compounds, and the procurement of a C-T Scan that would serve as part of his reform strategy to alleviate the sufferings of people going for overseas treatment. This he said, would reduce cost and in line with the Agenda for Prosperity.
Dr. Fofanah pledged to be dedicated to fallen heroes and heroines of Sierra Leone Health Sector due to the Ebola Virus Disease, reminding his audience that Ebola is still around, and until we stay Zero for 42 days, people should not be complacent. He opined that as it was one case in Kailahun that resulted to case fatality of over 4,000 people.
The WHO Country Representative, Dr. Anders Nordstrom described the event as an occasion that has placed Sierra Leone at the centre of the world being the first time to observe the day in 168th position.
He said with the experience on the Ebola outbreak, and in the fight to contain the disease following the WHO guidelines, Sierra Leone he said can build on this practice for other diseases including cholera, and reiterated his organization’s continued commitment working with the Health Ministry.
United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, John Hoover commended Sierra Leone in fighting the Ebola, adding that the whole world lauded Sierra Leone in its strides to almost eradicate the disease.
He described hand washing as very vital and less expensive for both the individual and health care workers, adding that it makes community safer and save lives.
The Envoy on behalf of the US Government through its Centre for Disease Control (CDC) expressed their continued partnership with the Health Ministry and WHO on Infection Prevention Control nationwide.
The Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo observed that the hand washing action is simple but lack compliance by some health care staff.
He calls for the practice of the principles of universal precautions noting that proper hand washing would help reduce a number of communicable diseases.
Other speakers include the Matron of the Connaught Hospital, Isatu Kamara, and the National Infection, Prevention and Control Coordinator, Madam Nana Sesay-Kamara who chaired the occasion.
A Hand Hygiene Video presentation by the Connaught Hospital Infection, Prevention Control Focal Person, Christiana Kallon formed part of the ceremony.