Emergencies preparedness, response

Infection prevention and control, and patient safety

Ebola: Health systems recovery

Infection prevention and control (IPC) is not only a response-specific intervention, but also a vital component in the recovery phase of health systems.

Nurses demonstrating hand washing on World Hand Hygiene Day 2015, Sierra Leone.
WHO/S. Gborie

Infection prevention and control occupies a unique position in the field of patient safety since it is universally relevant to health workers and patients at every single health-care encounter. For this reason, the IPC component of the Ebola outbreak response in West Africa was critical in preventing transmission, both within communities and health-care facilities via implementation of IPC best practices and context-specific measures.

However, IPC is not only a response-specific intervention, but also a vital component in the recovery phase of health systems and the delivery of essential health services. The priority is to ensure effective IPC practices are in place within a wider framework of patient safety.

To achieve this, multi-modal implementation approaches are required to support knowledge translation for health workers and community members, improve practices at the point of care, and ensure the right IPC processes and a supportive infrastructure during all stages of the recovery period.

The role of WHO is to provide leadership and technical support through a comprehensive, integrated IPC function focused on strengthening national and international IPC capacity.

More specifically, this involves providing input for guidelines and policy development, capacity-building of in-country expertise, training and implementation and evaluation, in collaboration with governments, country offices and partners.