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USAID Health Care Improvement Project Transfers Infection Control Initiatives to Namibia’s Ministry of Health and Social Services
URC, in collaboration with Namibia’s Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS), recently hosted a conference to transfer the country’s infection control initiatives from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Health Care Improvement Project (HCI) to the Ministry. Infection control refers to policies and procedures to minimize the risk of spreading infectious diseases, especially in health care facilities. Such procedures include managing health care waste, such as blood, needles, and medical devices.
The Ministry’s Directorate of Primary Health Services will manage the new Integrated Health Care Waste Management Plan, which was launched at the conference and will be distributed to health districts nationwide. The Ministry’s Division of Quality Assurance will manage the national medical injection safety program. Injection safety involves establishing procedures that will enable health care providers to perform injections in a manner that is optimally safe for patients, providers, and others.
USAID/Namibia Mission Director Ms. Elzadia Washington-Danaux, Minister of Health and Social Services Dr. Richard Nchabi Kamwi, and several other Ministry officials attended the conference. Dr. Aziz Abdallah, URC’s Chief of Party for HCI Namibia, presented an overview of the project.
HCI has provided technical support to the Ministry since 2008 in all 13 regions of the country to reduce the medical transmission of HIV and other blood-borne pathogens (infectious microorganisms transmitted by contaminated blood) that cause disease in humans, including patients and providers. Such transmission can occur during medical injections and through poor disposal of medical waste.
The project has also worked to 1) improve health care provider knowledge of HIV/AIDS, infection control, and occupational safety; 2) decrease stigma in health care settings; and 3) support the reporting of needle-stick injuries, which are caused by needles accidentally puncturing the skin, usually due to improper use or disposal. Contaminated needles can inject infectious fluids into the body, spreading disease.
Key project achievements include:
- Developing the following policies and guidelines:
- Infection prevention control guidelines,
- Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) guidelines,
- A waste management policy, and
- A quality assurance policy
- Launching the Integrated Health Care Waste Management Plan;
- Training over 12,000 health care workers in infection control and close to 100 MOHSS staff as trainer-of-trainers for that program;
- Integrating infection control into pre-service training curricula in Namibian universities;
- Establishing and strengthening infection control committees in all 34 health districts;
- Creating and distributing Information, education, and communication materials on hand hygiene, waste management, and PEP;
- Reaching over 500,000 community members with injection safety and waste management messages;
- Supplying over 350,000 injection safety boxes and PEP equipment to hospitals and clinics;
- Supporting a reduction in the number injections administered per patient among the 153 targeted facilities: The average annual number fell from 11.2 at the beginning of the program to approximately two at the end; and
- Helping to support sustained health care waste management progress: Over 90 percent of the targeted facilities reported that they had sustained the waste management progress achieved since the beginning of the program.
URC’s History of Infection Control Initiatives in Namibia
URC’s infection control work in Namibia began in 2004 with the USAID Medical Injection Safety Project, which supported the Ministry in adapting and developing national standards for medical injection safety and health care waste management practices. When the project ended in 2009, HCI supported the Ministry in implementing policy and programmatic interventions to improve these practices.
November 12, 2012