New Vision (Kampala)

25 February 2013

Uganda: 400 Die of Infections Daily

In a bid to reduce the high transmission of infections and death rates, the Government has embarked on a hand hygiene campaign in all health centres and public places countrywide.

The Minister of State for Pimary Health Care, Sarah Opendi, said over 400 people die daily of various infections including diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid, Ebola and Marburg fever.

In her keynote address on Thursday, Opendi said research had indicated that most invisible killer diseases are due to poor hygiene but noted that such a situation could be prevented if people developed a culture of washing hands.

Opendi was represented by the health ministry's permanent secretary, Asuman Lukwago, at the East African Infection Control Conference at Speke Resort Munyonyo

The conference, which was attended by medical officers from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda,Tanzania, Rwanda, Japan and Burundi, is the first of its kind in the region.

"We are going to enforce a hand hygiene campaign to make sure all our people develop a culture of washing their hands after every activity. We are going to provide alcohol hand rubs sanitisers in our hospitals to protect our health workers and patients," she noted.

An alcohol hand rub is made from sugarcane residues, produced by Saraya Company Limited in Japan. The solution, which was recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO), kills all bacterial infections once rubbed in the hands.

The campaign, "Save Lives: Clean Your Hands", is a strategy by WHO to reduce the high infection rate to protect people's lives globally.

Opendi said they will start with health facilities because they are full of organisms that cause infections because of many people who visit them.

The commissioner of clinical services, Dr. Jacinto Amandua, also said the sanitiser will be used at major public events.

He said all health workers in the country must rub or wash their hands before treating patients. Amandua said they are going to work with Japan International Cooperation Agency to supply it to all hospitals.

"The sanitiser is user-friendly, cheap, economical and effective once used appropriately. It addresses the problem of water shortages, especially in rural health facilities. We can now do away with gloves which are expensive," Amandua noted.

He said they would enforce the 5s (sort, set, shine, standardise and sustain) formula to create a good working environment at all health centres.

The ministry also intends to carry out countrywide sensitisation to enforce other common methods for cleaning hands.

The sanitiser and 5s formula was introduced in Entebbe and Gombe hospitals as a pilot study by Saraya and JICA. The medical Supretendant of Entebbe Hospital, Dr. Moses Muwanga, said the sanitiser has brought about tremendous reduction in infections.

The WHO representative from World Alliance for patient Safety, Prof. Didier Pittet, said the campaign has been implemented 169 countries with 37 countries in Africa.

The president of Saraya, Yusuke Saraya, said they intend to build a regional factory in Uganda to start the production of the sanitiser to reduce importation costs.

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