HYDERABAD: Washing one’s hands is arguably the most basic of personal hygiene measures, but unfortunately, this step seems to be often ignored at newborn care units and labour rooms, putting at risk the immunity of babies already suffering from poor health.
A study by Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) found hand hygiene compliance in wards at specialised newborn care units (SNCU) and neonatal intensive care units (NICU) to be as low as 23 per cent. The report also states healthcare workers coming in direct contact with blood and bodily fluids in newborn care units have a compliance of 14 per cent.
The adherence to hand hygiene is much lower in government hospitals -- a shocking 12 per cent, whereas in private hospitals it was an unsatisfactory 44 per cent.
The study titled ‘Hand hygiene in hospitals: an observational study in hospitals from two southern states of India’ was conducted at 52 secondary and tertiary hospitals in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh by researchers from PHFI in association with researchers from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm.
Dr Samiksha Singh, associate professor at Indian Institute of Public Health blamed the abysmal figures on the absence of strict regulation and the non-availability of wash areas and alcohol-based hand sanitisers at hospitals. “But the biggest issue is attitude problem because in many places it was observed that even when hand wash facility or the hand sanitisers were available, staffers would forget to use the facility.
Someone senior in the unit can on a regular basis monitor how many in the newborn care units are following hand hygiene rules,” Singh said.SNCUs and NICUs have babies who are pre-term or immuno-compromised — already struggling to survive, poor hygiene can make them even more vulnerable, she said.