In Focus

Finally, a global strategy to combat Hospital-Associated Infections

Associated Infections

The strategy stipulates that by 2030, everyone accessing or providing healthcare is safe from associated infections

The World Health Assembly agreed on Monday on the first-ever global strategy on infection prevention and control (IPC), which builds on almost two decades of efforts led by WHO and partners.

The strategy provides member states with strategic directions to substantially reduce the ongoing risk of health care-associated infections (HAIs), including those that exhibit antimicrobial resistance.

The strategy stipulates that by 2030, everyone accessing or providing healthcare is safe from associated infections. Its three key objectives are: to prevent infection in healthcare; to ensure IPC programmes are in place and implemented; and to coordinate IPC activities with other areas and sectors.

The strategy is focused on any setting where healthcare is delivered, across the health system. It is based on the principle of clean and safe care as a fundamental component of the right to health, which is equity driven, and which should ensure accountability and sustainability.

The decision was made during the Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly, which took place in Geneva from May 21 to May 30, under the theme “WHO at 75: Saving lives, driving health for all.”

The global IPC strategy will be complemented by, and used in conjunction with, an associated global action plan and monitoring framework, that will be developed in 2023–2024.

HAIs are among the most frequent adverse events occurring in the context of health service delivery. The COVID-19 pandemic and recent major disease outbreaks such as Ebola virus disease, the Middle East respiratory syndrome and the Sudan virus disease have clearly exposed the existing gaps in IPC programmes in all countries.

A recent WHO report on infection prevention and control highlighted the burden of infection and antimicrobial resistance and the related harm to both patients and health workers in healthcare settings.

While identifying key gaps and achievements at the country and global levels, the report highlights how much more could and should be done across all WHO regions to ensure the reliable implementation of infection prevention and control strategies and to realize the potential cost and life-saving benefits that this could bring.

The draft global strategy on infection prevention and control has been developed by the Infection Prevention and Control Hub team at WHO headquarters.

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