Health ministry steps up hygiene campaign in hospitals

There is need for mindset change to improve the level of hygiene in the country’s hospitals, Dr Anita Asiimwe, the Minister of State in charge of Public Health and Primary health care, has said.
A nurse attending to a patient at Rwanda Military Hospital - Kanombe / Timothy Kisambira.
A nurse attending to a patient at Rwanda Military Hospital - Kanombe / Timothy Kisambira.

There is need for mindset change to improve the level of hygiene in the country’s hospitals, Dr Anita Asiimwe, the Minister of State in charge of Public Health and Primary health care, has said.

 Dr Asiimwe was speaking to The New Times this week.

She said the ministry is working hard to address hygiene issues in hospitals throughout the country.

She cited the poor state of labour wards as one of the major challenges they face. 

 The challenge in wards, she said, is largely due to poor hygiene among the patients, especially in the countryside. 

  “You can’t push away a patient because they are dirty. You only need to encourage them to observe minimum hygiene standards,” she said.

 A spot check conducted recently by The New Times established that Rwanda Military Hospital (RMH) in Kanombe is one of the cleanest  hospitals in the country. 

  Capt. Charles Mugisha, the RMH environmental health officer, was found inspecting patients’ wards to ensure they are clean. They also boast a good water management system and a new incinerator.

Capt. Mugisha said  a clean hospital room free from germs, is critical to patients’ healing.

  “Management plays a key role. All hospital staff must pull in the same direction the good of the hospital,”  he said.

 Capt. Mugisha also cited regular sensitisation of patients as key to improved service delivery.

To help improve hygiene standards in hospitals, the ministry has indentified success stories and invited health professionals to learn from those who are seen to be doing a good job in that area. Such hospitals discuss several issues affecting the sectors, including hygiene. 

 Dr Asiimwe said the ministry conducts quarterly meetings with district doctors across the country to show them how things must be done. 

 The last one, in December, was held from Kibogora Hospital, Nyamasheke District, following the one in Butaro Hospital, Burera District. 

 “The major two areas for good hospital hygiene, Minister Asiimwe said, are waste management and waste disposal systems.

Dr Asiimwe said that with the exception of Kibagabaga and Remera-Rukoma hospitals that have insufficient resources, the rest have have systems in place but have simply failed to ensure hygiene.  

 The minister said waste disposal is being handled by encouraging hospitals that lack  incinerators reach an understanding with those that have them to have their waste deposited there. 

 “We have several industrial capacity incinerators.  To ensure they are not underutilised, we ask hospitals that have them incinerate for others,” she said. 

How Kibogora does it?

Located on the shores of Lake Kivu in the south-western part of the country, Kibogora Hospital is a rural facility with a total of 269 beds serving a population of approximately 250,000 people. It is also a referral centre for 12 outlying health centres.

 In 2011, the total number of staff at Kibogora was 216, including 12 doctors and 97 nurses. The hospital during that year admitted 6,312 patients and treated 23,119 as outpatients. The maternity unit delivered 1,628 babies. There were 1,998 major surgeries performed and 1,064 minor surgeries. 

 On Tuesday, the Director of Kibogora, Dr Damien Nsabimana, said: “The key to good hygiene is having the will, setting a mission and striving hard to achieve it.”

 “Ours is an old hospital built without any master plan but our hygiene is not based on good physical infrastructure. The will comes from having staff that are not so salary-minded,” he added.

 Dr Nsabimana said the hospital staff have stayed long enough and “understand that hygiene is life”. 

 He said that hygiene is not only the responsibility of cleaning staff but the entire hospital staff, doctors inclusive.

 The hospital’s maternity wards, he said, are congested but no food or cooking is permitted inside. A special eating area has been designated outside. The hospital also never suffers from water shortage as it has its own constant supply, unlike in many other hospitals. 

 

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