Centre asks states to focus on robust infection prevention to contain black fungus

·3-min read
Representative image
Representative image

New Delhi [India], May 21 (ANI): Amid rise in the number of patients suffering from Mucormycosis, also known as black fungus, in several parts of the country, the Union Health Ministry on Friday wrote to the all the states and union territories (UTs) advising them to review their preparedness for infection prevention and control, as well as hygiene and sanitation in hospitals.

Taking a note of the secondary and opportunistic fungal infections which are getting amplified due to the present surge in COVID cases and Mucormycosis becoming a cause of concern, Union Health Secretary in his letter to Chief Secretaries and Administrators of all States and UTs listed certain activities and urged them to undertake those practices to ensure that there are robust infection prevention and control practices in COVID hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

In the letter, all states and UTs have been directed to establish/activate the Hospital Infection Control Committee with the head of the institution or an administrator as the chairperson.

It also urged them to designate an infection prevention and control nodal officer - preferably a microbiologist or senior infection control nurse.

The government also instructed the states and UTs 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.

In the letter, the government mentioned the key components involved in the IPC programme which include 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.

The Union Chief Health Secretary also directed the states/UTs to emphasise and strengthen procedures and practices for IPC.

It further stated that in the context of COVID-19, standard precautions are to be applied all across the hospital/health facility, adding 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 states and UTs have been asked 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, cleaning, disinfection and sanitation of the hospital environment and frequently touched surfaces, with recommended disinfectants like one per cent sodium hypochlorite or 70 per cent alcohol, safe water and food to prevent water or food borne diseases in hospital settings and Biomedical waste management as per the CPCB guidelines.

It also mentioned that infection prevention and control practices need 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.

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, it said.

Meticulous adherence to Infection Prevention and Control while managing immunocompromised patients such as COVID-19 patients on steroid treatment, with co-morbidities, the letter underlined.

The Health Secretary also directed the states and UTs to establish surveillance of healthcare associated infections. In due course, with focus on ventilator associated pneumonia, catheter-associated blood stream infection, catheter-associated urinary tract infection, surgical site infections, gastro-intestinal outbreaks.

The state and UTs have been directed to 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.

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