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Health care  –  Interventions

Basic interventions

A variety of basic actions can be used to prevent and control infections.

WHO’s basic set of infection prevention and control guidelines promote the use of standard precautions such as:

  • Hand hygiene. Hand hygiene is the single most effective measure to stop transmission of health care associated pathogens.
  • Sterilization and disinfection of medical material
  • Aseptic technique
  • Prevention and management of injuries from sharp instruments
  • Early detection of disease and isolation precautions such as patient placement, use of personal protective equipment
  • Waste management

A selection of resources for basic interventions are found in the table below. In addition, many countries have their own guidelines that are adapted to the local circumstances.

Educational materials for health care workers are collected in RAISE AWARENESS: Education and training.

For tools and guidance how to measure the effects of interventions, go to MEASURE.

Selected Resources

Resource Description
WHO Clean Care is Safer Care: Tools and resources WHO tools and resources for hand hygiene interventions, including:

  • WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care
  • A hand hygiene self-assessment framework
  • A guide to handhygiene Improvement
  • A guide to local production of hand rub formulations
  • Template Action Plan for WHO Framework
  • Links out to additional pages on for example training and education and feedback
A Guide to the Implementation of the WHO Multimodal Hand Hygiene Improvement Strategy This WHO manual assist health care facilities to implement improvements in hand hygiene in accordance with the WHO guidelines on hand hygiene in health care. Available in English and French.
Five moments for hand hygiene The key moments for hand hygiene described in simple terms and images. Aims to add value to existing hand hygiene improvement strategies, developed by the WHO. Available in English and French.
Infection Control Assessment Tool (ICAT) for Primary Health Care Facilities This document identifies tools on how to improve practices for the prevention and control of infections and highlight deficiencies in current practices as well as proposing reformatory actions.
A quick desk reference for infection prevention and control in resource limited settings. Available in English and French (Earlier version in Spanish). Step-by-step instructions for how to perform critical procedures.
IFIC Basic Concepts of Infection Control This manual provides a scientific foundation for basic infection control principles mainly to countries with limited resources. The 2016 Edition available in English. The 2011 Edition is available in Spanish, Italian, French, Hungarian, Arabic and Bulgarian. Several chapters may be useful including:

  • Chapter 6: Audits in Infection Prevention and Control
  • Chapter 10: Hand Hygiene
  • Chapter 11: Isolation Precautions
  • Chapter 12: Cleaning, Disinfection, and Sterilisation
  • Chapter 21: Prevention of Blood-Borne Infections
  • Chapter 23: Housekeeping and Linen Management
  • Chapter 24: Health Care Waste Management
  • Chapter 25: Water Hygiene
Water and Sanitation for Health Facility Improvement Tool ‘WASH FIT’ Practical guidelines on how to improve quality of care through water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in health care facilities. Largely designed for primary, and in some instances secondary, health care facilities in resource-limited settings. The WASH FIT Mobile is a free complementary tool for the same purpose available here.
Reducing hospital-acquired infections and improving the rational use of antibiotics in a developing country: an effectiveness study Study describing the implementation of a multifaceted infection control and antibiotic stewardship programme and show good results in reducing hospital-aquired infections and antibiotic use.
Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance: Supporting national measures to address infection prevention and control, and water, sanitation and hygiene in health care settings (PDF) WHO and UNICEF fact sheet on AMR, infection prevention and water, sanitation and hygiene with recommended actions.
Natural ventilation for infection control in health-care settings The document gives an overview on natural ventilation and its design requirements in relation to infection control in health care settings.
Guidelines library – Resources toward elimination of HAIs CDC’s advice regarding strategies for surveillance, prevention, and control of healthcare-associated infections, antimicrobial resistance and related events in healthcare settings. The page includes for example:

Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization
Guideline for Isolation Precautions
Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control 
Guidelines for Hand Hygiene

Guide to Infection Prevention for Outpatient Settings: Minimum Expectations for Safe Care CDC summary guide of infection prevention recommendations for outpatient (ambulatory care) settings based primarily upon elements of Standard Precautions and represents the minimum infection prevention expectations for safe care in ambulatory care settings.


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