Launching a new capacity development program in Rwanda

by Waleed Fatth (GEI Global Programs Manager, Berlin)
Nosocomial infections or healthcare associated infections are infections acquired in healthcare settings, which affect hundreds of millions of patients worldwide every year. As an unintended result of seeking care, these infections lead to more serious health complications, prolong hospital stays, and might induce long-term disability and/or unnecessary patient deaths. These infections do not only impose unexpected high costs on patients and their families, but also lead to a massive additional financial burden on the healthcare system.

Insufficient hygiene, bad medical practices and lack of vector control measures within healthcare settings may result in significant risk of infection for patients and staff for HIV, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases. Unsafe injections, for instance, are estimated to account for 50,000 to 100,000 HIV and 10 to 25 million Hepatitis B and C infections globally per year. Of those people infected with hepatitis, some 1.2 million might die from these infections. Worldwide, nosocomial infections affect at least 10% of patients entering a health facility, and in low and middle-income countries this figure can rise as high as 40%. Healthcare providers and workers are also at great risk because of bad medical practices, often in combination with an absence of proper medical waste management in health facilities.

Rwanda - Infection Control

The good news is that most of these infections are entirely preventable and can be controlled; however, there are many factors that might hinder effective prevention. Some of these factors are related to systems and processes of healthcare provision, political and economic constraints on health systems and countries, as well as human behavior. All of these factors can produce any number of challenges that may diminish the efforts of healthcare professionals to reduce infections acquired in healthcare settings in developing countries such as Rwanda.

Infection Control (IC) is currently an inadequately addressed area in Rwanda, which the government is seeking to develop through a long-term capacity building partnership with USAID and other partners, known as the Human Resources for Health initiative. International practices of IC are largely inapplicable in a developing country setting, thus innovative and contextually relevant approaches are required in order to address this crucial aspect of healthcare management.

Based on the shared vision of a robust system for healthcare capacity development in Rwanda, GEI is working hand in hand with Human Resources for Health in order to mutually support capacity development within Rwanda’s healthcare system. We have partnered with leading international public health and infection control professionals to support Rwanda’s efforts to establish a reliable IC system by contributing to the development of capacity at individual and institutional levels. Our local and international partners have collaboratively developed a training curriculum based on the globally recognized World Health Organization standards for IC and further adapted to the Rwandan context and culture, focusing on infection control and occupational safety in laboratories. These training sessions will make a significant impact at the hospital level and contribute to the development of a strong and relevant IC system in Rwanda.

Our IC delegation is led by Mary Foley (RN, PhD, FAAN), a Past President of the American Nurses Association. Foley is an Associate Clinical Professor at the School of Nursing in the University of California, based in San Francisco. She researches and teaches healthcare policy, improving the workplace, promoting safe care, and worker health and safety. For two years, Modern Healthcare named her one of the 100 “most powerful” in the US healthcare system, the first nurse to ever make it onto the list.

We are inviting all medical and nursing professionals and advanced students from relevant fields to join our delegation and our efforts to improve patient safety and reduce the risk of infection within healthcare settings in Rwanda. Join us now!