The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has called on the citizens to maintain hand hygiene; saying it is a lot cheaper than the cost of treating an infectious disease.
Dr Abiodun Egwuenu, the Programme Manager, Antimicrobial Resistance Programme, NCDC, made the call on Thursday in Abuja at the commemoration of the 2022 World Hand Hygiene Day (WHHD) by Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Jabi, Abuja.
The WHHD is celebrated every year on May 5 to recognise global efforts, aimed at preventing the spread of infections through frequent handwashing with soap and water.
Egwuenu stressed that hand hygiene was very important because 50 per cent of infections, especially at the hospitals, often referred to as hospital or healthcare acquired infections, were avoidable.
She said that when the culture of hand hygiene was in place in a community and even at the hospital, there would be a reduction in healthcare cost and a reduction in transmission of infections, especially for antimicrobial resistance.
“Antimicrobial Resistance occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and fail to respond to medications,” she said.
Egwuenu said: “You reduce transmission of resistance infections because some of these germs become resistant to the normal drugs that usually treat them.
“When this happens, the person stays most in the hospital, spends more on care and the might even die. So, hand hygiene is very central to preventing infection.
“The cost of care reduces by 16 times; so, if you implement that in hospitals what you save is 16 times over. Therefore, hand hygiene as small as it might seem, can save a lot of lives and save a lot of money.”
The Medical Director, FMC Jabi, Prof. Saad Ahmed, said that there was need to continually emphasise the importance of hand hygiene.
Ahmed, who was represented by Dr Joseph Eziechila, the Head, Clinical Services at the hospital, cited the case of viral conjunctivitis, popularly referred to as “Apollo”, saying that it could be prevented by washing of hands.
He said that although the restrictions on COVID-19 had been relaxed, staff of the hospital were charged to sustain the culture of washing their hands.
Ahmed said: “Marking the World Hand Hygiene Day is a form of re-creating the awareness because when you continue repeating a thing, it becomes a habit and once it is a habit, it is difficult to go away.
“We are in contact with a lot of people because the hospital is a public place with micro-organisms flying around, but once you wash your hands, you would have reduced by 60 per cent the chances of getting one infection or the other.”
He, however, said that where there was no water, alcohol-based hand sanitisers should be used.
The Head of Department, Medical Microbiology, Dr Nkolika Uwaezuoke, said that the hands were the singular most important vehicle in the transmission and spread of micro-organisms within the hospital environment.
He said that ensuring clean hands was crucial to healthcare workers, as they routinely interacted with patients daily.
Uwaezuoke said: “Hand hygiene is an important practice that is performed by healthcare workers to keep patients and everyone safe, including visitors to hospital.
“To achieve this, we need to work together to stop the spread of germs causing infections, thereby sustaining a culture of clean hands and reducing healthcare-associated infections,” he said.