Fondation Merieux

A family foundation dedicated to fighting infectious diseases

Hand hygiene initiative in Laos

Thanks to funding from Fondation Mérieux, an initiative to reinforce hand hygiene in Laotian hospitals was deployed during the month of March. A prevalence survey ’on a given day’ of healthcare-associated infections in healthcare centers in four Laotian provinces, representative of the whole country, was conducted by students at the Institut de la Francophonie pour la Médecine Tropicale (IFMT). In the Luang-Prabang and Sekong province hospitals, training on hand hygiene was also organized for medical personnel to raise awareness about this essential step.

Addressing a major public health issue

Healthcare-associated infections affect hundreds of millions of patients in the world each year. These infections can cause serious illness, increased hospital stays, long-term disability and additional costs for patients and healthcare systems.

In this context, rubbing hands with hydro-alcoholic gel has become systematic in hospitals and clinics in developed countries. Due to their bactericidal, virucidal and fungicidal properties, hydro-alcoholic solution enables rapid and efficient hand hygiene. However, in developing countries, due to the lack of resources to purchase industrially produced gels, hand cleaning is often done with just soap and water, thereby limiting its practice between patients.

Local production of hydro-alcoholic gel

This initiative made it possible to establish hydro-alcoholic gel production units in the Luang-Prabang and Sekong province hospitals. Each hospital designated an area for preparation and a manager trained in producing and distributing the product. The solution uses a formula based on the one recommended by WHO (1), which comprises products that are available locally: ethanol, hydrogen peroxide, glycerin and water. Local reagents were supplied to start the production and hospitals are responsible for buying reagent stocks for future production to ensure its sustainability.

The development of these production units was based on the experiment carried out in 2011 by Caroline Leyer (International Volunteer at Fondation Merieux, 2011-2012) who created a production unit for hydro-alcoholic solution at the Thakhek hospital laboratory.

A WHO Project

By launching a first global challenge for patient safety called ’Clean Care is Safer Care’, WHO is asking all countries to increase hand hygiene awareness and understanding.(2)

(1) WHO 2009: Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care
(2) WHO 2010 : Overview of WHO Guidelines for Hand Hygiene in Health Care

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