World Health Organization (WHO) says the emergence of life-threatening infections such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and viral hemorrhagic fevers (e.g., Ebola and Marburg viral infections) highlight the urgent need for efficient infection control practices in healthcare. The CBC Health Services understands that if we fail to apply strict infection control measures, we shall inadvertently ease the spread of pathogens. It is against this background that CBC Health Services started its Infection Prevention (IP) programme in 2002 at Banso Baptist Hospital and Mbingo Baptist Hospital.
Over time, the programme has been scaled up in all facilities. Besides having Infection Prevention committees, the programme has trained IP trainers as Mr. Nkwan Jacob, CBC Health Services IP Supervisor puts it, “…sustaining infection prevention lies in continuous training; making sure that new staff receive induction training and old staff are given follow-up training.”
“Therefore, to ensure quality and safety, we must uphold infection to very high standards. Infection prevention should be the responsibility of all the staff …because one person who is negligent can contaminate surfaces and people and become a source of infection to the rest of the people in the hospital.”
The Enlarged IP Committee meets regularly to review progress in infection prevention and seek new ways to make the facilities, staff, and patients safer. One of such meetings held on May 11, 2018, at the Baptist Centre in Nkwen, Bamenda. The get-together, inter alia, assessed the progress made by CBC Health Services’ Infection Prevention nurses in the implementation of their action plans and reviewed some processes as they relate to infection prevention in the hospitals and health centres.
Quizzed on the importance of combating infections at the level of hospitals, Mr. Nkwan said, “Hospitals are very special places where people who are already sick and harbouring a good number of microorganismsare concentrated. [Here] you also have complicated procedures such as injections and surgical procedures that expose staff and patients.
In April 2017, the IP programme launched the WHO Framework for hand hygiene which has been implemented in some 37 facilities of the CBC Health Services. The IP Supervisor reiterated that 80 per cent of infections spread through our hands because 80 percent of the activities in the hospitals are carried out using the hands. This, he said, explains why infections must be fought by targeting the common mode of transmission which is our hands. “That is why we emphasize on hand hygiene because implementing it alone could prevent about 80 percent of the infections in our health facilities,” added Mr. Nkwan.
The CBC Director of Health Services (DHS), Prof Tih Pius Muffih, while opening the meeting said Infection Prevention started in the organization in a very small way but has now expanded to all the institutions. He appreciated the outstanding work that has been done by Infection Prevention nurses to ensure effective coverage of all institutions with IP services.
Prof. Tih remarked that “The quality of healthcare we offer means that we must ensure that when patients come into our hospitals and health centres with malaria, for instance, they shouldn’t leave with additional infections.” Infections, he said, are the source of diseases and must not be minimized but dealt with squarely.
In a chat with CBC Health Services Press, Prof Tih was concerned about the fact that after the Ebola scare we have now relapsed into consistent shaking of hands, a practice which he says is responsible for the spread of most infections. To that effect, he introduced what he calls the CBC Health Services’ handshake (that is, greeting with the back of the hand and or the fist) that has been adopted by the Infection Prevention Committee and will be disseminated to all staff as the acceptable form of greeting.
In addition, Prof. Tih stressed on the need for staff to take the use of alcohol hand gels that have been made available in all institutions seriously. He further regretted that sometimes after changing their babies’ nappies, some mothers go ahead to feed them without washing their hands. He, therefore, strongly encouraged the frequent washing of hands with running water and soap especially after using the loo (toilet) and after cleaning one’s nostrils.
The Committee Chairperson, Mr. Nkwan Jacob Gobte, who is also the CBC Health Services’ Infection Prevention Supervisor has described the committee members as “movers”, encouraging them not to minimise their role in the prevention of infections in our health facilities.
The Northwest Regional Delegate for Public Health was represented at the meeting by the Focal Person, Hygiene, and Sanitation at the Delegation, Mrs. Ghogomu Bridget. She encouraged CBC Health Services Infection Prevention Nurses to follow the norms and standard set by the program at their various levels in order to succeed in combating infections. Mrs. Ghogomu who said she was impressed with the CBC Health Services’ infection prevention strategies acknowledged that these efforts are in line with the Ministry of Health’s national objective of health promotion.
The IP Nurse for Banso Baptist Hospital and her satellite stations said in a chat with the CBC Health Services press that the meeting helped her to fully understand her job description, something she has battled with for some time. She added that the meeting was instrumental in refreshing her knowledge on improving standards particularly in injection safety, hygiene, and sanitation of the hospital.
The committee also had fruitful discussions on waste disposal guidelines/manual, housekeeping quality/training, injection safety/safety boxes and IP updates from various facilities.