Dr Bamidele Iwalokun, a molecular biologist, on Thursday, urged the Federal Ministry of Health to set up an infection control committee to monitor and evaluate infection control practices in hospitals.
Iwalokun, who is the Head of Immunology and Vaccinology Research Department, Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, made this call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
He said that the infection control committee should be engaged in surveillance of diseases that were common in the hospitals, known as nosocomial infections.
“Infection control has gone beyond sanitising the hospital environment. Through survey, we can generate data that will give information on the source of such infections and how they are spread.
“The essence of infection control is to reduce the burden of nosocomial infections and also to prevent the carriage of infection from communities into the hospitals and vice versa.
“The practice of patient containment, which includes transfer of patient from one ward to another, is very important, especially from the Intensive Care Units (ICU) to others.
“Screening of patients is also important in infection control. Before admitting a patient, hospitals should screen them for pathogens, so they don’t transfer such pathogens to patients that are already in the wards.
“Some patients in the hospitals die of diseases contracted while in the hospital instead of dying of the diseases that brought them in,” he said.
Iwalokun said that government should ensure that the infection control policy includes an adequate Antibiotics Stewardship Programme to give information on how active these antibiotics drugs are.
“There should be a committee that will enforce an ‘antibiotic stewardship’ to give accurate information on how active the drugs can be. This will help to prolong and improve therapeutic lifestyle.
“The committee can be engaged in building local data base to monitor trends in antibiotics resistance; and to guide antibiotics stewardship programme.
“Many hospitals don’t have this programme and it’s a big minus to their infection control mechanism because one of the key tools used in the hospital to cure patients is drug.
“And their therapeutic effectiveness is challenged by resistance and one of the factors that cause the resistance is irrational use of antibiotics.
“The irrationality may come from over prescription in the hospital or the over abuse of antibiotics by the patient before coming to hospital.
“If we have a good antibiotics stewardship programme, integrated into infection control system, it will improve the appropriateness of antibiotics prescription in our hospitals," he said.
The expert, however, said the Federal Government should also provide adequate funds for the infection control system to work.
“We need a holistic approach and also proper funding to be able to have a good infection control system in Nigeria.
“Also, there must be networking in the infection control system, where committees have yearly meeting to provide information on challenges being faced with a view to proffering solution,” he said.