Patient safety

First priorities: Health care associated infections

A common platform for working

Hand rub and hand washing

The common platform of work for all the hospitals participating in the APPS programme is health care-associated infections (HAI). The WHO Regional Office for Africa identified 12 key areas for patient safety action, (on which the partnerships can choose to undertake activities in multiple areas within their first 2-year plan). All partnerships agreed to carry out initiatives focused on HAI as one of their focus areas.

Hand hygiene is at the heart of infection control, an essential procedure of universal relevance in health care. Hand hygiene is a simple, low-cost procedure, the impact of which can contribute globally to saving millions of lives.

The WHO First Global Patient Safety Challenge - Clean Care is Safer Care has been a flagship programme for WHO Patient Safety since its establishment in 2004. It focuses on hand hygiene at the point of care as a key method of reducing health care-associated infections. In May 2009, the WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care were published, together with a suite of tools and materials to support the implementation of effective hand hygiene programmes in all health-care environments.

The opportunities for synergy across APPS and the First Global Patient Safety Challenge are exciting and three areas in particular form the basis of common working:

  • Technical – Implementation methodology related to the WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care.
  • Awareness raising – Supporting efforts to raise awareness of the importance of hand hygiene and participate in the annual international day of action on 5 May – showcasing the work of the African Region.
  • Country mobilization – The mass pledge of political commitment in the African Region in September 2008 has strengthened the case for action on hand hygiene improvement in the African region and APPS can support turning that commitment into action at the bedside.

Surgical safety

A second priority area of focus for APPS hospitals based on another of the 12 key areas identified by the African Region is safe surgical care and through the work of the Safe Surgery Saves Lives Challenge at WHO. The aim is to support the implementation of the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist and improve compliance with standards and decrease complications from surgery in the APPS hospitals in the region.

As has been proven in the pilot testing of the Checklist and since implementation in hospitals throughout the world, it can significantly improve outcomes in surgery for patients.

The WHO Surgical Safety Checklist and its successful adaption and implementation in the context of the APPS African partner hospitals is a critical focus for the programme and a priority area of work. APPS plays a crucial role in ensuring support and the tools and resources are available for success in the Region on this specific area.