Health ministry launches national guidelines for infection prevention & control to tackle COVID-19

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Union health ministry has framed a set of national guidelines for infection prevention and control in healthcare facilities across the country in a bid to minimise the impact of pandemic COVID-19.

These National Guidelines for IPC in Healthcare Facilities will enhance the patient safety and the capacity of health workers to prevent and control infections in Indian hospitals.

These guidelines shall prevent current and future threats from infectious diseases such as Nipah, Ebola and will help in strengthening health service resilience, combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and improve the overall quality of healthcare delivery.

“These guidelines will be valuable for improving the quality of services because its contents are realistic, practical and designed to meet local needs. They are aligned to the National Patient Safety Implementation Framework (2018–2025) as well as the National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance,” explains union health secretary Preeti Sudan.

Infection prevention and control refers to measures aimed at preventing and controlling infections and transmission of infections in healthcare settings.

“I request all stakeholders to ensure that these guidelines are widely implemented in healthcare facilities across the country to strengthen IPC systems thereby promoting safe healthcare practices,” Sudan added.

Preventing infections is at the core of public health and is also the best way to reduce the use of antimicrobials. Hand hygiene is the simplest cost-effective intervention for preventing the spread of infections not only in healthcare facilities but also in the community.

Supporting the initiative, Dr Henk Bekedam, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to India said, “I look forward to these guidelines being implemented in all healthcare facilities. WHO is proud to be associated with the development of these National Guidelines for Infection Prevention Control in Healthcare Facilities, as well as the National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (NAP-AMR), National Patient Safety Implementation Framework (2018–2025) and the National Guidelines for National Patient Safety Implementation Framework all of which identify infection prevention and control (IPC) as a strategic priority.”

Vaccines and the use of reuse prevention (RUP) syringes are other methods than can avert infections.

“Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) are one of the most common adverse events in delivery of care and a major public health problem with an impact on morbidity, mortality and quality of life. Infection prevention and control is also important to prevent the occurrence and spread of infections, thereby reducing the need for antibiotics. I congratulate National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in taking the lead and developing these guidelines in collaboration with the WHO Country Office,” informed union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.

HAI, also referred to as “nosocomial” or “hospital” infections, occur in a patient during the process of care in a hospital or other healthcare facility and were not present or incubating at the time of admission. These are one of the most common adverse events in healthcare delivery and a major public health problem with an impact on morbidity, mortality and quality of life.

“These guidelines provides the framework to strengthen the infrastructure and manpower needed to address infection prevention and control. The Hospital Infection Control Team and Hospital Infection Control Committees are critical mechanisms to systematically address IPC in any healthcare facility,” concludes Sanjeeva Kumar, special secretary, health and family welfare.

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