China signed the Statement of Patient Safety to tackle health care-associated infections Tuesday, officially joining in the Global Patient Safety Challenge program initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Huang Jiefu, vice minister of health, said the ministry would establish and implement the technical standards for prevent and control health care-associated infections, intensify control and management of hand hygiene, blood safety, injection and immunization safety, safe clinical procedures, safe water and sanitation in health care.
"China will strengthen international communication and cooperation, sharing experiences and techniques of health care-infection control with other countries," he said.
China has paid great attention to the health care-infection control, which was covered by the Law on the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases enacted in 2004 and the ministry's regulations on hospital infections management in 2006, Huang said.
Dr Hans Troedsson, the WHO Representative in China, said one fifth of the world population joined the program as it was launched in China, and it's significant to conduct activities through proper approaches.
Besides China, 45 countries and regions have signed commitments to join the program.
WHO and its partners launched the Global Patient Safety Challenge with the theme "Clean Care is Safer Care" on Thursday, 13 October 2005.
The Global Patient Safety Challenge, a core programme of the World Alliance for Patient Safety brings together the WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care (Advanced Draft) with ongoing actions on blood safety, injection and immunization safety, safer clinical practices, and safe water, sanitation and waste management.
Simple actions contained in these low-cost strategies have also proven to be very effectives in reducing the burden of health care-associated infection.
At any given moment some 1.4 million people worldwide are ill because of infections acquired in hospitals. In developed countries the toll is 5% to 10% of patients. In some developing countries, as many as a quarter of patients may be affected.
An open-access commentary in the December 2007 issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology examines the UN initiative in depth.
Authors Benedetta Allegranzi, (World Alliance for Patient Safety, World Health Organization), and Didier Pittet, (Infection Control Program, University of Geneva Hospitals, Geneva), note that healthcare-associated infection is a major patient safety problem found in every hospital, healthcare system, and country.
The risk of healthcare-associated infection is 2 to 20 times higher for patients in developing countries than for patients in industrialized countries. A complex array of factors contribute to that increased risk, including lack of resources, inappropriate use of antibiotics, use of counterfeit drugs, understaffing and lack of training of health care professionals, and governments that are overwhelmed with larger health issues and cannot commit to infection control procedures and standards.
"The First Global Patient Safety Challenge represents an unprecedented initiative to improve infection control practices and procedures in any healthcare setting, regardless of the level of economic development," explains Dr. Pittet. "Never before in the history of infection control has there been such an opportunity to improve the health of so many millions of individuals by promoting basic but essential practices through the powerful channels of the WHO, which allow the involvement of governments and influence their healthcare systems."
Hand hygiene remains the primary measure to reduce health care-associated infection and the spread of antimicrobial resistance, stressed Pittet. "It enhances the safety of care across all settings, from complex, modern hospitals to simple health posts."
The WHO developed guidelines on hand hygiene in health care based on scientific evidence and international expertise. A multimodel implementation strategy will turn the guidelines into practice and will suggest feasible ways to induce changes that will result in increased hand hygiene compliance and reduced morbidity and mortality due to healthcare-associated infection. Part of the effort is to make the indications for hand hygiene universally understandable and not open to interpretation. It focuses on only five points when hand hygiene is required when providing health care.
A worldwide pilot test of the strategy and tools is under way to evaluate the feasibility, sustainability, cost-effectiveness and cultural adaptation of a multimodel strategy for hand hygiene improvement.
"Results obtained from the worldwide testing will be invaluable in helping to shape scale-up and sustainability worldwide and will go a long way to ensuring that infection control practices continuously improve and contribute to enhanced patient safety," conclude the authors.