Share the article

Health care  –  Interventions

Basic interventions

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

WHO’s guidelines on core components of infection prevention and control programmes promote the implementation of standard precautions such as:

  • Hand hygiene. Hand hygiene is the single most effective measure to stop transmission of health care associated pathogens.
  • Use of personal protective equipment
  • Sterilization and medical devices decontamination
  • Applying principles of asepsis
  • Prevention of injuries from sharp instruments
  • Proper patient placement
  • Environmental cleaning
  • Waste management
  • Safe handling of linen and laundry

Improved water sanitation and hygiene heavily reduced wound sepsis after C-section

Description: Health care in Sierra Leone crippled in the post-conflict period. A lack of electricity, water and basic supplies used for infection prevention and control made safe deliveries difficult. At one hospital – the Bo District Hospital – 60% of women who gave birth through caesarian-section got sepsis due to infected wounds. To address these issues, development partners in Sierra Leone that worked on maternal and newborn health shifted the focus of their programs. Boreholes were drilled, water storage facilities were introduced and a generator was supplied to the operating theatre of the Bo District Hospital. Staff was trained in water sanitation and hygiene and wound care.

Place: Bo District Hospital, Sierra Leone.

Setting: Maternity unit

Finding: Within a period of 3 months, post-caesarian wound sepsis decreased from 60% to 10%. Use of antibiotics decreased dramatically. Within 6 months, more than twice as many women chose to deliver at this maternity unit since their improved services quickly became known to patients.

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 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 Hand hygiene implementation tools Information portal. WHO tools and resources for hand hygiene interventions, such as Guide to local production: WHO-recommended handrub formulations, Tips for implementing a patient participation programme, and the Five moments for hand hygiene poster in multiple languages, as well as local adaptations of tools. From here you can also access:

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.
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.
The ISID Guide to Infection Control in the Healthcare setting Guide that summarizes principles, interventions, and strategies to reduce healthcare associated infections. Contains more than 60 short chapters on a variety of topics often specifically addressing settings with limited resources. See for example chapters on:

The guide is also available in Spanish.

Water and Sanitation for Health Facility Improvement Tool ‘WASH FIT’ Framework and tools to help monitor improvements to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in health care facilities, to improve quality of care (by WHO and UNICEF). 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.
Best Practices for Environmental Cleaning in Healthcare Facilities in Resource-Limited Settings Manual from Infection Control Africa Network (ICAN) and CDC. The best practices are divided into three chapters focusing on 1) environmental cleaning programs 2) supplies and equipment and 3) procedures. Should be used and implemented within the framework of existing IPC programs. Also available in French, Spanish and Portuguese.
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.
Reducing hospital-acquired infections and improving the rational use of antibiotics in a developing country: an effectiveness study Intervention example. Describes the implementation of a multifaceted infection control and antibiotic stewardship program with good results in terms of reducing hospital-acquired 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) Fact sheet. WHO and UNICEF fact sheet on AMR, infection prevention and water, sanitation and hygiene with recommended actions.
Guidelines library – Resources toward elimination of HAIs Guidelines from CDC on 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

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.
AMR travel tool Framework. Online platform to support clinical management of patients returning from international travel. Focuses on assessing risks of being colonized by antibiotic resistant bacteria. The tool is based on surveillance data from multiple sources. Also provides a section with pre-travel advice for travellers.

More from "Interventions"