Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) launches its newly revised and updated National Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) Guidelines, Wednesday this week in Honiara.
The National IPC guideline is a practical, evidence based approach to preventing patients and health workers from being – harmed by avoidable infection and as a result of Antimicrobial Resistance ( Antimicrobial resistance is the resistance of microorganisms (bacteria, virus, fungi, parasites etc. to different antimicrobial/antibiotics drugs) in health facilities. In essence, the guide will enhance prevention of infectious diseases transmission between and amongst health care workers and patients, caregivers and visitors to health facilities across the country.
Solomon Islands first had in place the guideline in 2004, and was later reviewed and updated in 2010 and again in 2019. However due to engagements in COVID-19 preparedness, and response, the Ministry finally managed to finalize and approved the guideline this year.
WHO Country Representative in Solomon Islands Dr Sevil Huseynova, in her remarks at the event, highlighted that preventing harm to patients, health workers and visitors due to infections in health facilities is fundamental to achieve quality care, patient safety, health security, and the reduction of health care associated infections and antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
“Similarly preventing and reducing the transmission of infectious diseases that pose global threats; such as COVID-19 pandemic, influenza, Ebola virus disease and other viral hemorrhagic fevers is paramount”, said Dr Huseynova.
She also drew attention to the importance of hand hygiene and other basic IPC standards and measures. There is overwhelming evidence that shows appropriate hand hygiene is the single most effective action to stop the spread of infections. “However globally, 1 in 4 health facilities lack basic water, 1 in 10 facilities have no sanitation, 1 in 3 facilities lack hand hygiene facilities at points of care. 1 million of the 4.1 million maternal and neo-natal deaths per year maybe related to unhygienic birthing practices. Newborn survival rates could potentially increase by 44% when hand washing and clean birthing kits are in place”,
“This goes to show the importance of these IPC standards and measures in place, such as basic clean and running water, proper sanitation facility and use of personal protective equipment as well as good health infrastructure that does not pose further risks of infection transmissions”, said Dr Huseynova.
She congratulated the Ministry of Health and the government of Solomon Islands for launching the guideline in which she described as a cornerstone of public health and one of the important tools in health to fight COVID-19 pandemic, Antimicrobial Resistance, Tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. “To see such an important document or police transform and positively impact our service delivery down to the rural level will be a huge success for the people of Solomon Islands”, stated Dr Huseynova.
Health Permanent Secretary Mrs. Pauline McNeil as part of her brief remarks acknowledged the Public Health Emergency and Surveillance (PHESU) team of MHMS together with the NRH Clinicians, Strategic Partners including the Pacific Community (SPC), Griffith University WHO and UNICEF for Technical contribution and donors partners including the Government of Australia and the European Union for funding support. The culmination of all the various contribution has made the updated IPC guidelines a reality.
She however emphasized that IPC is everyone’s responsibility be at a health facility and or at home in ensuring that patients or persons are safe and that there is reduced acquired infections, thus the need to also uphold IPC measures at at all settings. “On a personal level, I am currently looking after my parents father, 88-year and mother 83-years of age. They are both well because of the strict IPC measures enforced at home by the caregivers such as general hygiene practices and cleanliness, and ensuring public health measures on food preparation are also adhered to”,
“I encourage all of us health workers who will be implementing the guideline to also be living testaments to our patients, clients, families and friends in practicing good IPC measures at the various settings that we work at and live in ”, explained Mrs. McNeil.
Mrs. McNeil went on to mention that while the guideline is now in place, the onus is now on us to rollout and implement the components of the guideline..
Delivering the keynote address, Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana highlighted that IPC has been the corner stone of our success so far in preventing a community transmission of COVID-19 in Solomon Islands. “ The ability of our frontlines and support staff operating at our ports of entry, borders, quarantine stations and isolation wards including COVID-19 laboratories to safely discharge their duties without contracting the virus and thereby causing community transition is due to IPC”,
“ However within our health facilities health care associated infections are a significant threat to patient and health care workers safety in the Solomon Islands and there is a need to improve health outcomes, prevent future outbreaks and establish a culture of safety in the delivery of health care. Situation analysis performed by external consultants highlighted clear vulnerabilities at all levels of health care delivery in Solomon Islands, which relate to IPC infrastructure and practice that contribute to the ongoing threat to the health and safety of patients and health care workers”, said Dr Togamana.
The Ministry of Health is also grateful towards other line ministers such as the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, Immigration, Bio-security, National Disaster Management Office etc. in in upholding IPC standards and measures in their work- stations with respect to the current COVID-19 operations.
-Joint Press from WHO and MHMS