Healthcare-related infections’ prevention top priority: Minister

|     Wani Roslan     |

THE Ministry of Health (MoH) continues to give emphasis to the prevention of healthcare-associated infections and addressing antimicrobial resistance, said Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar, in his speech yesterday during the launching of the Hand Hygiene Awareness Campaign 2019 at the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hundreds of millions patients worldwide are annually affected by infection, which can cause problems such as prolonged hospital stay, increased antimicrobial resistance, increased cost of treatment to the health system and health complications, including death.

The minister said, “Healthcare-associated infection is acquired when a patient receives treatment in health facilities, including hospitals, health centres and clinics.”

“In Brunei Darussalam, the appearance and spread of immune medicines (antimicrobial resistance) is a serious threat to public health, leading to an increase in health costs and the threat of a possible return to the pre-antibiotics era, where common bacterial infections can also be life-threatening.” He further explained, “The spread of these harmful germs, without us being aware, can happen during the course of healthcare activities, especially through our hand in which the spread of these germs happens from patients to patients, from patients to the environment and vice-versa.”

The minister also highlighted that that while hand hygiene is one of the most important and effective steps in the prevention of harmful bacteria, many studies show that compliance in terms of hand hygiene is still quite low.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar tours an exhibition set up at the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital
Minister of Health presents the booklet on basic guide on hand hygiene to a patient. – PHOTOS: WANI ROSLAN

“The Ministry of Health is concerned about this matter, and has approved Dasar Kebersihan Tangan Kementerian Kesihatan (The Ministry of Health’s Basic Guide to Hand Hygiene) and posters on the proper steps of hand-washing, which should serve as guidelines and reminders for all health personnel in the country,” he added.

The minister added that since the implementation of formal training among healthcare personnel, the rate of compliance for hand hygiene at the RIPAS Hospital has shown an improvement from 23 per cent in June 2015 to 53 per cent in October 2018.

“Yet, that rate still needs to be improved, where the compliance rate must be at least 85 per cent,” he said. “Therefore, the initiative of this campaign is important in the efforts to boost the compliance for clean hands, and in improving the quality and safety of the treatment provided to patients,” he said.

The minister concluded his speech by calling for hand hygiene to be reinforced among healthcare personnel, hospital patients and visitors. “I hope that this practice of hand hygiene can be improved upon and applied stringently in all hospital and healthcare facilities in the country,” he said.