Prevention of nosocomial infections in developing countries, a systematic review

Paediatr Int Child Health. 2013 May;33(2):61-78. doi: 10.1179/2046905513Y.0000000054.


Background: Prevention of nosocomial infection is key to providing good quality, safe healthcare. Infection control programmes (hand-hygiene campaigns and antibiotic stewardship) are effective in reducing nosocomial infections in developed countries. However, the effectiveness of these programmes in developing countries is uncertain.

Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of interventions for preventing nosocomial infections in developing countries.

Methods: A systematic search for studies which evaluated interventions to prevent nosocomial infection in both adults and children in developing countries was undertaken using PubMed. Only intervention trials with a randomized controlled, quasi-experimental or sequential design were included. Where there was adequate homogeneity, a meta-analysis of specific interventions was performed using the Mantel-Haenzel fixed effects method to estimate the pooled risk difference.

Results: Thirty-four studies were found. Most studies were from South America and Asia. Most were before-and-after intervention studies from tertiary urban hospitals. Hand-hygiene campaigns that were a major component of multifaceted interventions (18 studies) showed the strongest effectiveness for reducing nosocomial infection rates (median effect 49%, effect range 12.7-100%). Hand-hygiene campaigns alone and studies of antibiotic stewardship to improve rational antibiotic use reduced nosocomial infection rates in three studies [risk difference (RD) of -0.09 (95%CI -0.12 to -0.07) and RD of -0.02 (95% CI -0.02 to -0.01), respectively].

Conclusions: Multifaceted interventions including hand-hygiene campaigns, antibiotic stewardship and other elementary infection control practices are effective in developing countries. The modest effect size of hand-hygiene campaigns alone and negligible effect size of antibiotic stewardship reflect the limited number of studies with sufficient homogeneity to conduct meta-analyses.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Asia
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Developing Countries
  • Drug Prescriptions / standards
  • Hand Disinfection / methods
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • South America


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents