News and Opinions  –  2019

ReAct Africa stakeholder at WHO IPC consultation – for standards and guidelines in African Union member states

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Mid April, the Africa Center for Disease Control and WHO held a technical consultation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to develop Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) minimum standards and guidelines for healthcare facilities within the African Union member states. ReAct Africa joined as one of the stakeholders at the consultation.

Participants involved in the WHO technical consultation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The meeting was held to start developing an IPC legal and policy framework for African Union-member states. To establish minimum standards and guidelines for Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) for healthcare facilities.

IPC has been an integral part of public health for decades. The International Health Regulation (IHR) is considered the overarching legislation governing public health in the 196 WHO-member states. However, preliminary findings from the desk literature/review study of the existing national laws, policies and regulations governing IPC in African states conducted by ICAN South Africa, showed that only 28 of the 55 (inclusive of Western Sahara) African states had both national laws and policies speaking directly to public health. None, distinctly percolated IPC as a separate entity, rather it was embedded within “public health” or “infectious disease control”.

Portait of Tracie Muraya.
Tracie Muraya, ReAct Africa.

Tracie Muraya, representing ReAct Africa at the consultation says:

 “Laws and regulations are considered binding and lack of adherence to them punishable, policies are not. Laws and implementations frameworks that are regulatory and enforceable should therefore be put in place, in addition to the policies”.

Representatives from member states, hospitals and organizations

The consultation attracted representatives from a number of countries: the Democratic Republic Congo, Egypt, Liberia, Malawi, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia and Zimbabwe among others.

The IPC stakeholders represented teaching hospitals, organizations such as the Infection Control African Network (ICAN) country offices, different WHO offices (Headquarters, WHO AFRO, WHO EMRO), CDC USA, CDC Africa and ReAct Africa.

All stakeholders were engaged in providing feedback and technical advice on the content of the proposed IPC minimum standards document in the form of plenary and panel sessions.

Plans for next steps

Aim for the meeting days was to plan for priority IPC activities identified and developed to support the implementation of the Africa CDC framework for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in African Union member states.

Way forward

For this to be accepted and eventually ratified by African Union Commission member state leaders, the resultant policy document will be a short (maximum 10-page) document and shall be incorporated into the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Framework or the Universal Health Coverage framework or the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) – three frameworks political leaders are familiar with and in support of. ReAct Africa will contribute to the formulation of the short policy document together with Africa CDC.

It is pertinent to develop an IPC framework to guide the continent. The established standards will constitute the essential starting point for building additional criteria elements of the WHO IPC components and more importantly, implementation will be according to a step-wise approach based on assessments of the local situation in any given setting.

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