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UAE signs up to WHO hand hygiene pledge

The UAE has taken a significant step towards safer hospital practices by pledging its support to the World Health Organisation (WHO)-led Clean Care is Safer Care (CCSC) programme, an initiative that aims to combats nosocomial infections by promoting improved hand hygiene.

The UAE has taken a significant step towards safer hospital practices by pledging its support to the World Health Organisation (WHO)-led Clean Care is Safer Care (CCSC) programme, an initiative that aims to combats nosocomial infections by promoting improved hand hygiene.

Although four other areas are covered by CCSC, namely blood safety, injection safety, water safety and clean care procedures, the UAE government is placing special emphasis on improving hand hygiene standards, which are closely linked with reducing preventable hospital-related diseases.

“These infections cause considerable suffering and, in many situations, can be avoided,” said UAE minister of health Mr Humaid Al Qutami, at the signing of a statement affirming the UAE’s commitment to the WHO’s scheme at the Patient Safety Congress, held in Dubai last month.

“We want to take action to reduce the impact on patients within the UAE public health sector, but it is also the responsibility of the hospital staff, patients and general public,” he added.

Professor Didier Pittet, leader of the Global Patient Safety Challenge and director of the Infection Control Progamme at Geneva’s University Hospital, described the step as being ‘tremendously important for the UAE’.

“Between 8-12% of patients admitted into hospitals in developed countries suffer some form of nosocomial infection, it’s a preventable problem that affects every hospital worldwide,” he explained.

Healthcare associated diseases account for up to 98,000 deaths in the US annually, at an industry cost of between US $17-29 billion. The UK spends at least $1.7 billion each year fighting nosocomial infections.

Working under CCSC’s guidelines, UAE hospitals will introduce alcohol-based hand rubs at the point of care, as well as launch an initiative to educate healthcare workers on the importance of hand hygiene.

“We are promoting standards and educating workers, offering feedback and support and using posters as reminders to help healthcare professionals change their routines,” said Pittet.

Notable improvements have been observed in countries already committed to the programme, which include the UK, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and GCC countries Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, he added.
“Introducing alcohol-based hand rub has seen a 50% decrease in nosocomial infection rates, which have remained lowered over a three year period. The expenditure on this campaign has amounted to less than 1% of the costs incurred by higher rates of infection.”

Oman will become the fourth GCC to pledge its allegiance to the WHO’s programme when it signs an agreement in December.

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