Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Việt Nam’s national action plan for prevention and control of hospital infections between 2016 and 2020 will focus on improving effectiveness at health facilities to ensure patient and staff safety.
The plan, issued yesterday at a conference held in HCM City, aims to improve policies, technical processes and professional documents.
Accordingly, more than 80 per cent of hospitals in the country will have standard sterilisation units by 2020. Currently, 46.5 per cent lack the units.
Software, tools and a database for a national surveillance system on control of hospital infections will be set up in 2017.
More than 50 per cent of provincial-level hospitals will carry out surveillance and will quarantine patients with microorganisms that are resistant to antimicrobials.
They will report periodically to the national surveillance system in 2018.
Under the plan, more than 70 per cent of hospitals in the country will keep watch on microorganisms in water, air and surface at areas with a high risk of transmission such as rooms for surgery, drip feeds and dialysis in 2018.
At least three centres on training for control of hospital infections will be established at hospitals in the northern, southern and central regions.
Dr Lương Ngọc Khuê, head of Health Examination and Treatment Department, told Việt Nam News that the implementation of more and more medical techniques required an increased control of infections.
“Hospital infections occur in not only Việt Nam but around the world. However, the rate of hospital infections in the country is still higher than in other countries,” Khuê said.
A study conducted by the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases in 2013 among 3,671 patients at 15 intensive care units in 15 hospitals in the northern, southern and central regions showed that the rate of hospital infections was 27.3 per cent.
The central-level hospitals had a higher rate of such infections.
Trần Minh Hiệp, deputy head of Nguyễn Đình Chiểu Hospital, complained that the hospital had an Infection Control Ward, but the control’s effectiveness was still low.
Because the hospital was built tens of years ago, the building and its facilities do not meet the Ministry of Health’s regulations on hospital infection control, Hiệp said.
Lê Văn Tuân of the World Health Organisation in Việt Nam said that each hospital should create a detailed plan according to its conditions and seek sources for funds to implement the plan based on the national regulations.
Roles of patients and care givers
Dr Nguyễn Thị Thanh Hà, deputy chairwoman of the HCM City Infection Control Society, said that patients and their relatives who take care of them during their stay at hospitals should join hands with health staff to prevent infections.
Hospital infections could worsen diseases, prolong hospital stays and, most importantly, create microorganisms resistant to antimicrobials, Hà said.
“Patients and their relatives have low awareness of maintaining hygiene at hospitals, leading to an increase in bacteria.”
It is vital to improve education and encourage them to follow hospital regulations on infection control, especially regularly washing hands, she said.
“Sharing of beds and patient overload at Việt Nam’s hospitals offer a conducive environment for infection to increase.”
The Ministry of Health uses infection criteria to assess hospitals as safe for patients or not.
It has also organised many campaigns to reduce the risk of hospital infections -- such as one to wash hands among health staffs and patients.
Thủ Đức Hospital in HCM City, for instance, organises these campaigns every year. On Tuesday, the hospital called on staff and patients to sign commitment for hospital infection control.
Hà said one of the challenges to controlling hospital infection in Việt Nam is the shortage of professionals specialising in this issue.
These professionals are required to have a deep understanding of environmental hygiene, care and treatment of patients and hospital architecture appropriate for infection control, she said.
Public hospital fees were increased by 30-50 per cent last March, with 30 per cent of the hikes to be earmarked for infection control, meaning hospitals would have more resources to combat infection, she said.
“Another benefit when hospital infections do not occur is that the cost of antibiotics for treatment reduces.”
According to the health ministry, five years after it sent a circular on hospital infection prevention and control, 20.8 per cent of hospitals around the country had not set up an infection department as of last year.
More than 93.2 per cent had been irregular with surveys on hospital-acquired infection since 2010. — VNS