WHO report on Infection Prevention and Control

Monday May 9, 2022 at 3:13 pm

The Covid-19 pandemic and other recent large disease outbreaks have brought out the importance of how health care settings can contribute to the spread of infections, harming patients, health workers, and visitors if insufficient attention is paid to infection prevention and control (IPC). A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) has shown that where good hand hygiene and other cost-effective practices are followed, then as many as 70% of those infections can be prevented.

Out of every 100 patients in acute-care hospitals at the moment, seven patients in high-income countries and as many as fifteen patients in low- and middle-income countries will acquire at least one Healthcare-Associated infection (HAI) during their hospital stay. On average, one in every ten such affected patients will die from their Healthcare-Associated infection (HAI).

People in intensive care units (ICUs) and newborn babies are particularly at risk. And the report reveals that approximately one in every four hospital-treated sepsis cases and almost a half of all the cases of sepsis with organ dysfunction treated in adult Intensive Care Units (ICUs) worldwide are healthcare-associated.

On the eve of World Hand Hygiene Day, World Health Organization (WHO) previews the first-ever Global Report on Infection Prevention and Control, which brings together evidence from scientific literature and various reports and new data from World Health Organization (WHO) studies.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed many challenges and gaps in infection prevention and control (IPC) in all regions and countries, including those which had the most advanced IPC programs,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General. “It has also provided an unprecedented opportunity to take stock of the situation and rapidly scale up outbreak readiness and response through IPC practices and strengthen IPC programs across the health system. Our challenge now is to ensure that all countries can allocate the required human resources, supplies, and infrastructures.”

The new World Health Organisation (WHO) report provides the first-ever global situation analysis of how infection prevention and control (IPC) programs are being implemented in countries worldwide, including regional and country focuses. While highlighting the harm to patients and healthcare workers caused by  Healthcare-Associated infections (HAI) and antimicrobial resistance, the report also addresses the impact and cost-effectiveness of infection prevention and control programs and the strategies and resources available to countries to improve them.

These healthcare-associated infections and their antimicrobial resistance to people’s lives are valuable. Over twenty-four percent of such patients are affected by healthcare-associated sepsis, and 52.3 percent of such patients treated in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) die each year. Deaths have also increased two to threefold when infections are resistant to antimicrobials.

In the last five years, World Health Organisation (WHO) has conducted global surveys and country joint evaluations to assess the implementation status of national Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) programs. Comparing the data from the 2017-18 and the 2021-22 surveys, the percentage of various countries having a national Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) program did not improve; furthermore, in 2021-22, only four out of the total 106 assessed countries (3.8%) had managed to arrange all minimum requirements for infection Prevention and Control (IPC) in place at the national level. That is reflected in the inadequate implementation of infection Prevention and Control (IPC) practices at the point of care, with only 15.2% of health care facilities meeting all of the IPC minimum requirements, according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) survey in 2019.

However, encouraging progress has been witnessed in some areas, with a significant increase being seen in the percentage of countries having an appointed infection Prevention and Control (IPC) focal point, a dedicated budget for infection Prevention and Control (IPC), and a curriculum for front-line health care workers’ training; development of national infection Prevention and Control (IPC) guidelines, and a national program or plan for Healthcare-Associated Infection (HAI) surveillance; using multimodal strategies for infection Prevention and Control (IPC) interventions, and establishing a good hand hygiene compliance as a key national indicator.