WHO suggests simple measures can reduce 70% of infections

Measures such as good hand hygiene can prevent 70% of infections in healthcare settings, recommended today (6) by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The UN agency recalls that people admitted to intensive care units and newborns are especially vulnerable to nosocomial infections and will benefit from “good infection prevention and control programmes”.

According to 2016 and 2017 data, 7% of patients in hospitals in high-income countries and 15% of those in low- and middle-income countries will have “at least one healthcare-related infection”.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control estimates that 4.5 million infections occur annually in European Union countries, not only in hospitals but also in services such as nursing homes.

About a quarter of people who contract sepsis and half of those treated in intensive care units die each year, with death rates “doubling or tripling when infections are resistant to antibiotics”.

In the WHO evaluation, Portugal is among the countries with infection control and prevention programs in place, with regular evaluations of their effectiveness and updating according to the numbers.

In 2020 and 2021, years in which the impact of the covid-19 pandemic was felt, 11% of countries had no program or operational plan to contain infections, 54% had plans that were only partially implemented or not implemented, 34 % had national plans and only 195 had effective monitoring mechanisms.

According to the organization, in 2019, “15.2% of all healthcare facilities met all minimum requirements for infection control.”

The WHO cites “encouraging progress”, with an increase in the percentage of countries as focal points for infection control or specific budgets for training health professionals.

Countries with the highest incomes are eight times more likely to make progress in implementing their programs than those with the lowest incomes, where there was “little progress” between 2018 and 2021.

“WHO calls on all countries to increase investment in infection prevention and control programs to ensure the quality of care provided and the safety of patients and workers.” He recalls that investment in the sector “improves results and reduces costs”.

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