By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
World Health Organisation (WHO), Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Tuesday harped on the importance of hand washing.
“Every year, on 5 May, we celebrate World Hand Hygiene Day. This year, as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic, the life-saving importance of clean hands has never been more prominent.
“We can protect ourselves and our families by frequently washing our hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Hand hygiene, along with physical distancing, respiratory etiquette and disinfecting surfaces are the basic preventive measures for a range of diseases, including COVID-19.”
In this context, she said several African countries are providing water to communities free-of-charge as part of the national response, so that more people can wash their hands.
“In celebration of the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, this theme of World Hand Hygiene Day 2020 is “nurses and midwives, clean care is in your hands” because infection prevention and control, including hand hygiene, is important in all settings. It is especially important in health-care facilities as part of ensuring quality patient care.”
At WHO, “we are working with countries, the World Food Programme and other partners to ensure health workers have essential supplies, such as personal protective equipment, including gloves. In recent weeks, we delivered replenishments to more than 50 African countries.
We are also working with sub-regional nursing associations and other partners and have trained more than 3000 health workers via interactive virtual seminars, including demonstrating good hand hygiene.
“However, working with partners, we urgently need to scale-up access to water across the continent. In Sub-Saharan Africa, more than one in four health-care facilities have no water service. An increasing number of facilities are producing alcohol-based hand rubs locally, but this is not a substitute for a safe, reliable water supply.”