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Ebola: Prevention hurdles before Nigerian govt


AS the worst outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease, EVD,  holds the world in its grip, experts are lamenting that the rules of infection control have long been abandoned.   In particular, washing of hands with soap and water, is no longer the norm.

Simple basic hygiene such as washing of the hands regularly could actually stop the outbreak of the virus.   Hygiene according to WHO refers to conditions and practices that helps to maintain health and prevent the spread of diseases.

Medical hygiene therefore includes a specific set of practices associated with this preservation of health, for example environmental cleaning, sterilisation of equipment, hand hygiene, water and sanitation and safe disposal of medical waste.

Also to prevent Ebola spread experts have said that the key word is constant hand washing with soap and keeping to infection control.   Hand washing is a cheap and effective method of limiting the spread of health care associated infections, but compliance has been reported to be low worldwide, especially in developing countries like Nigeria.

Personal hygiene and cleanliness is paramount but in a country where water remains a scarce commodity even in the hospitals, this is a huge challenge.
A study conducted by Dr. V. Omuemu and colleagues on “Hand hygiene practices among doctors in a tertiary health facility in southern Nigeria” and published in the Journal of Medicine in the Tropics,disvovered that only few doctors practise hand hygiene.

In the study,  which was to determine the knowledge and practice of hand hygiene among medical doctors in a tertiary health facility in southern Nigeria, 108 of the 326 doctors who participated were directly observed. Less than half  had good knowledge (43.9 percent) and good practice (48.2 percent) of hand hygiene.

However, on direct observation, the overall compliance rate was 16.7 percent. Among reasons mentioned for noncompliance included: Lack of hand hygiene materials like soap and water (65.0 percent), forgetfulness (35.0 percent), too busy/insufficient time (19.3 percent), inconvenient location of sinks (16.9 percent), the use of gloves (7.1 percent), and skin irritation from washing agents (4.6 percent).

With the result of the study and the fact that there is no regular supply of water in hospitals and the country at large, observers oipine that if doctors find it difficult to maintain hand hygiene, what is expected of the common man?

While alternatives such as hand sanitisers cannot be provided to all hospitals or citizens, the hurdle before  government is to ensure adequate and regular water supply in all health facilities across the country, while institutions  embark on hand hygiene promotion campaign.


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