In assessing IPC interventions, the WHO report shows a range that has proven highly effective in preventing HAI occurrence. Hand hygiene is highlighted in the report as the single most effective measure to reduce the transmission of microorganisms/pathogens and reduce HAIs. Where good hand hygiene practices are followed, 70 percent of HAIs can be prevented. Additional noted interventions included: 

1) Screening, isolation, and decolonization targeting prevention and/or control of HAIs; 

2) PPE specifically targeting prevention and/or control of HAIs; 

3) IPC programs involving an infection preventionist at the national or facility level; 

4) The utilization of education and training programs; 

5) Environmental cleaning; 

6) HAI surveillance; 

7) Monitoring and evaluation; and  

8) Multimodal strategies.  

COVID-19's Impact on IPC 

According to the WHO report, despite the surge in response globally to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, not all essential IPC human resources, supplies and products are available two years into its duration. There continues to be a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for HCWs and other facility staff, and the creation of COVID-19-safe environments (i.e., a dedicated entrance for screening, a separate room for a suspected COVID-19 patient, etc.) is still suboptimal in some countries. The lack, or limited availability, of PPE was confirmed in WHO pulse surveys carried out in 2020 and 2021 on continuity of essential health services during the pandemic. 

The completion and release of the WHO's global report on IPC marks coincides with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Past infectious outbreaks, and now COVID-19, have demonstrated the risk of infection spreading through healthcare facilities and impacting patients, HCWs, visitors and other building occupants. The WHO report provides epidemiological evidence concerning the burden of HAIs and AMR, particularly as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data proves the case for IPC as a highly impactful and cost-effective solution to both avoid harm and save lives, as well as reduce costs to the healthcare system. 

The WHO Global Report on Infection Prevention and Control is the first detailed overview of IPC program practice implementation at the facility level on a worldwide scale. The findings in the report identify strengths that exist, gaps in IPC implementation that indicate a need for improvement, and the identification of opportunities to improve IPC efforts. Conclusions indicate that a greater emphasis must be placed on developing and enforcing stronger policies and regulations and these must be supported by leadership, as well as by a fully trained IPC workforce at the facility level.  

The Who Global Report on Infection Prevention and Control can be downloaded here.

Shannon O'Connor is a freelance writer from Mason, Ohio. 



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