Let’s fund IPC for the better handling of future outbreaks 

By Edward Makuzva 

Funding IPC (Infection Prevention and Control) is crucial for ensuring better handling of future outbreaks. By investing in IPC, we can improve the preparedness and response to infectious diseases, protect public health, and save lives.

There are various ways to obtain funding for IPC initiatives. One approach is to advocate for increased government funding, as governments play a vital role in public health infrastructure.

Additionally, collaborating with private organizations, philanthropic foundations, and seeking grants can also provide financial support. It’s important to highlight the benefits and outcomes that effective IPC measures can bring, emphasizing how they contribute to a healthier and safer future for all.

Addressing journalists at a media briefing on the advocacy for a domestic IPC budget held in the capital recently, Director of Nursing Services in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Nyaradzai Chiwara, who is also the national IPC lead, added that there is a need for countries to have a stand-alone budget for the infection prevention and control (IPC) programme to prevent healthcare-associated infections and future outbreaks.

Chiwara revealed that other programme areas, such as WASH, Maternal and Child Health, Sexual Reproductive Health, Emergency Preparedness and Quality Improvement with no direct funding under the MoHCC Programme Based Budgetary Allocation System, which means the country needs to formulate a sustainable plan to fund IPC programmes that includes capacity development of Health Care Workers in IPC training and formulation of a Career Structure for IPC professionals, prevention of Healthcare Associated infections and Surveillance of highly infectious Infections like TB, COVID-19 and Cholera.

Chiwara highlighted that IPC activities and funding are embedded in other programmes as mentioned above, it is difficult to track how much has been spent for specific IPC interventions and development, in line with the 76th World Health Assembly Resolutions in 2023.

“There is need for countries to have a stand -alone budget for the IPC programme to support this growth, prevent Healthcare Associated Infections and future outbreaks from 35-70%.

“Therefore, combined efforts from government, corporates and the media in ensuring the application of Standard Precautions and Transmission Based Precautions such as improved hand hygiene practices, rational use of antibiotics and environmental cleaning, isolation of infectious cases could reducethe health burden of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) by 85%.

“To achieve this, there should be a multisectoral approach to budget advocacy for Infection Prevention and Control in the following Key areas that contribute to the Vision of the Global IPC Strategy: these are

-Political commitment and policies to scale up and enforce the core components of IPC programmes.

-Strengthening of essential Public Health functions in support of the achievement of the Universal Health Coverage.

-Community engagement and Response coordination Translation of science for better health emergency preparedness Integration and alignment of IPC with other programmes, coordination among government sectors and collaboration with the most critical stakeholders

-Mobilise resources for sustained Financing of IPC Programmes

Address infodemic of misinformation,” Chiwara explained.

According to WHO, Infection prevention and control (IPC) is a practical, evidence-based approach preventing patients and health workers from being harmed by avoidable infections. While the country has developed a strong IPC programme over the last decade, the COVID-19 pandemic led to increased demand for strong and sustainable IPC interventions.

Speaking at the same briefing, the President of the Infection Control Association of Zimbabwe Trust( ICAZ-T), Dr. Celestino Dhege, added that programmes to support IPC are particularly important in low- and middle-income countries.

Dr Dhege revealed that the WHO is calling on member states to increase their investment in IPC programmes to ensure quality of care and patient and health workers’ safety and protect their populations. Increased investment in IPC has been demonstrated to improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs and out-of-pocket expenses.

“We are looking at a scenario where we are coming out of COVID -19 and we all realize that infection was very important and was critical in ensuring that we respond effectively to COVID-19.

“There was a quite a lot of money needed to be able to respond. And if you look at IPC, it covers a whole range of areas. It’s not about hygiene”, Dr Dhege added.

Statistics on World Health Organisation (WHO) IPC report and strategy , revealed that 15% of patients in low and middle income countries have at least one health care centre associated infection compared to the 7 % in high income countries.

ICAZ-T director Alethia Mashamba said it was important to IPC for the better handling of future outbreaks.

” You put in place the correct measures according to the mode of transmission of a disease, they know what measures to put in place to prevent transmission within the institutions to other patients to themselves and visitors”, said Mashamba.

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