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Review infection prevention preparedness to control black fungus: Centre to states

Family members help a Black Fungus patient for undergoing treatment at Government ENT Hospital in Hyderabad on Friday. (ANI Photo)Premium
Family members help a Black Fungus patient for undergoing treatment at Government ENT Hospital in Hyderabad on Friday. (ANI Photo)

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan in his letter to Chief Secretaries and Administrators of all States and UTs urged them to undertake activities/practices to ensure that there are robust infection prevention and control practices in COVID hospitals

New Delhi: Perturbed over secondary and opportunistic fungal infections getting amplified due to the present surge in covid-19 cases and Mucormycosis, popularly known as Black Fungus becoming a cause of concern, Union Health Ministry on Friday advised all States/UTs to review their preparedness for infection prevention and control, as well as hygiene and sanitation in hospitals.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan in his letter to Chief Secretaries and Administrators of all States and UTs urged them to undertake activities/practices to ensure that there are robust infection prevention and control practices in COVID hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

The health secretary said that the states should establish/activate the Hospital Infection Control Committee with the head of the institution or an administrator as the chairperson and designate an infection prevention and control nodal officer – preferably a microbiologist or senior infection control nurse.

The states have been advised to prepare and implement the Infection Prevention Control (IPC) Programme in the hospital/health facilities, as per the guidance given in National Guidelines for Infection and Control in Healthcare Facilities. The guidelines, involve the key components of infection prevention and control manual, guidelines on antimicrobial use and management, educational programmes and strategies, risk assessment and risk management, planning, monitoring, audit and feedback and implementation strategies.

Bhushan asked states to emphasise and strengthen procedures and practices for IPC. In the context of covid-19, Bhushan said that standard precautions are to be applied all across the hospital/health facility. He further said that transmission-based precautions need heightened focus on droplet, airborne and contact precautions from the perspective of protecting healthcare workers and ensuring patient safety.

The centres also asked the states to improve the environment and facilitate ventilation with focus on fresh air and natural ventilation wherever control systems with requisite air changes are not available. Other measures that have been advised to the states are cleaning, disinfection and sanitation of the hospital environment and frequently touched surfaces, with recommended disinfectants like 1% sodium hypochlorite or 70% alcohol. The centres emphasised on safe water and food to prevent water or food borne diseases in hospital settings.

States and UTs have been assured that Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will provide all necessary assistance to implement the National Guidelines for Infection Prevention and Control in Healthcare Facilities.

“Biomedical waste needs to be managed as per the central pollution control board (CPCB) guidelines. Infection Prevention and Control practices needs to be enhanced in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) using a bundle-approach to prevent device associated infections such as ventilator associated pneumonia or catheter-associated blood stream, urinary infections etc," the letter said.

“Infection Prevention and control practise in the clinical laboratories and those attached to hospitals are very crucial for the safety of laboratory/hospital staff and health security of the community. Meticulous adherence to Infection Prevention and Control while managing immunocompromised patients such as covid-19 patients on steroid treatment, with co-morbidities (such as diabetes where good glycemic control needs to be established," the centre said in the letter.

In due course, Bhushan recommended to establish surveillance of healthcare associated infections with focus on ventilator associated pneumonia, catheter-associated blood stream infection, catheter-associated urinary tract infection, surgical site infections, gastro-intestinal outbreaks.

“Train all hospital staff to develop their skills in IPC, irrespective of their individual routine duties, in implementing procedures and protocols described in the Hospital Infection Control Manual. A State Nodal Officer needs to be identified to monitor the implementation of infection prevention and control to provide evaluation and feedback of the IPC programme in the state," the letter reads.

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