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By Emmanuel Daudu, Abuja-Nigeria

Nigerians have joined millions of people around the world to mark Global Hand Hygiene Day. The purpose of the day which is to mobilise citizens around the
world on the campaign which was launched in 2009 – ‘SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands’. The campaign aims to maintaining the promotion, visibility, and sustainability of hand hygiene in
health care settings around the world. Led by global advocacy efforts. The campaign now supports a social movement that helps to keep patients and health workers safe. Since 2019, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) through the National Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) program has led the country’s efforts to make hand hygiene day activities a major national event to raise the consciousness of Nigerians on these efforts, and their role in saving lives.

This year, the global Hand Hygiene Day theme which is “Achieving hand hygiene at the point of care”, and the slogan is “Seconds save lives – clean your hands!”

The COVID 19 pandemic has further exposed the risk of care-associated infections in low and middle-income countries, particularly in patients admitted to intensive care units and
in neonates. This is a major public health problem in Nigeria and has a significant impact on morbidity, mortality, and quality of life. The national sub-theme for Nigeria this year is “One Nation, One Plan: Turn Nigeria Orange!”.
This recognises the efforts that have been made since the launch of the ‘Orange Network’ in 2019. The Orange Network is a network of dedicated tertiary health facilities in Nigeria supported by NCDC, through the ‘Orange Project’ to become centers of excellence in infection prevention and control.

NCDC recognises that the safety of health workers has to be at the forefront of Nigeria’s response strategy to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases.

In line with activities to mark the 2021 World Hand Hygiene Day, the NCDC in
collaboration with the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Jabi organised a lecture on the importance of hand hygiene in health care settings. Together with its committed partners, Infection Control Africa Network, Nigeria Society for Infection Control.

The event which was held at the Jabi conference hall of the Federal Medical Centre, got Prof. Sa’ad Ahmed, Chief Medical Director, Federal Medical Centre, Jabi urging health workers to be proactive in maintaining the policies of the IPCC to ensuring healthy living.

Prof Sa’ad Ahmed, Chief Medical Director, Federal Medical Centre, Jabi

Also at the event, Dr. Tochi Okwor, NCDC Infection Prevention & Control Programme Coordinator, urged Health care workers to always clean their hands at the point of care, as IPC practitioners were charged with mentoring colleagues on clean hands at the point of care.

“Facility managers, Ensure hand hygiene supplies are available at every point of care, Policymakers, to ensure hand hygiene for all. Patients and families, Wash your hands regularly, clean hands save lives. Vaccinators: Clean your hands with every vaccine. Everyone: Make washing your hands a regular habit – it protects us all”, she added.

Dr Tochi Okwor, NCDC Infection Prevention & Control Programme Coordinator

Dr. Chinwe Ochu, Director of Prevention Programmes & Knowledge Management, Representing the NCDC Director-General also stated that In collaboration with relevant government institutions, NCDC will continue to support health care workers to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases while administering health care in Nigeria. “Now, more than ever before, good hand hygiene must be part of all aspects of health care delivery”, she said.

Dr Chinwe Ochu, Director of Prevention Programmes & Knowledge Management, Representing the NCDC Director General

Speaking further, Dr. Chinwe said,
the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control is the country’s national public health institute, with the mandate to lead the preparedness, detection, and response to public health emergencies. The Bill for an Act to establish NCDC was signed into law in November 2018, by President Muhammadu Buhari. The mission for the NCDC is ‘To protect the health of
Nigerians through evidence-based prevention, integrated disease surveillance and response, using a One Health approach, guided by research and led by skilled workforce”.

Sensitisation of the general public during the event at FMC Jabi

The US CDC and Africa CDC representative at the event, Mrs. Chioma Dan-Nwafor, an Epidemiologist while admonishing health workers, patients to always adhere to habitual handwashing disclosed that her organisation has trained over 1, 200 health workers in relevant areas, pointing out that they are open to further collaborations and capacity building of health workers in Nigeria.

Earlier, the chairperson of the Infection Prevention Control Committee of the FMC Abuja, Dr. Nkolika S.C Uwaezuoke in her welcome address encouraged health care workers to clean their hands at the point of care by performing it during HC delivery bearing in mind the 5 specific moments when HH should be performed.
“This is to help prevent the spread of pathogens”, she added.

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