Clean Care is Safer Care

Infection prevention and control

Infection prevention and control (IPC) is a scientific approach and practical solution designed to prevent harm caused by infection to patients and health workers. It is grounded in infectious diseases, epidemiology, social science and health system strengthening. IPC occupies a unique position in the field of patient safety and quality universal health coverage since it is relevant to health workers and patients at every single health-care encounter.

No country, no health-care facility, even within the most advanced and sophisticated health-care systems, can claim to be free of the problem of health care-associated infections. The need for having IPC programmes nationally and at the facility level is clearly reinforced within the WHO 100 Core Health Indicators list.

A new IPC unit has therefore been set up within the WHO Service Delivery and Safety (SDS) department to provide a comprehensive, integrated IPC function focused on strengthening national and international IPC capacity and implementing safe practices at the point of care. This unit will build upon the foundations and achievements of the Clean Care is Safer Care programme (2005-2015) and the strong leadership and technical expertise demonstrated by the existing WHO infection prevention team, most recently during the Ebola virus disease response and early recovery work.

The IPC global unit will lead WHO’s work on IPC and will work collaboratively with related units in SDS, in particular the Patient Safety & Quality unit and the newly created unit dealing with Quality Universal Health Coverage, as well as with other related departments and units at the three levels of WHO.

The IPC global unit will deliver its work based on five main functions:

  • Leadership, connecting and coordinating
  • Campaigns and advocacy
  • Technical guidance and implementation
  • Capacity-building
  • Measuring and learning.

The key technical areas of work for the 2015-2017 period are:

  • Hand hygiene
  • Prevention of surgical site infections
  • IPC to combat antimicrobial resistance
  • Injection safety
  • Burden of health care-associated infections
  • Ebola response and recovery
  • IPC country capacity-building
  • Prevention of sepsis and catheter-associated bloodstream infections
  • Prevention of catheter-associated urinary tract infections.

Governance of the IPC global unit is based upon the provision of regular advice and mentorship by the WHO Special Envoy on Patient Safety and on the creation of a Technical Steering Group and of an External Advisory Board.