Hand Hygiene Practices and Promotion in Public Hospitals in Western Sierra Leone: Changes Following Operational Research in 2021

Trop Med Infect Dis. 2023 Oct 27;8(11):486. doi: 10.3390/tropicalmed8110486.


Hand hygiene is the most important intervention for preventing healthcare-associated infections and can reduce preventable morbidity and mortality. We described the changes in hand hygiene practices and promotion in 13 public hospitals (six secondary and seven tertiary) in the Western Area of Sierra Leone following the implementation of recommendations from an operational research study. This was a "before and after" observational study involving two routine cross-sectional assessments using the WHO hand hygiene self-assessment framework (HHSAF) tool. The overall mean HHSAF score changed from 273 in May 2021 to 278 in April 2023; it decreased from 278 to 250 for secondary hospitals but increased from 263 to 303 for tertiary hospitals. The overall mean HHSAF score and that of the tertiary hospitals remained at the "intermediate" level, while secondary hospitals declined from "intermediate" to "basic" level. The mean score increased for the "system change" and "institutional safety climate" domains, decreased for "training and education" and "reminders in the workplace" domains, and remained the same for the "evaluation and feedback" domain. Limited resources for hand hygiene promotion, lack of budgetary support, and formalized patient engagement programs are the persistent gaps that should be addressed to improve hand hygiene practices and promotion.

Keywords: IPC in hospital; Structured Operational Research Training Initiative (SORT IT); hand hygiene self-assessment framework (HHSAF); hand hygiene training; healthcare-associated infections (HAIs); infection prevention and control (IPC).