On May 15th, the wife of the Senate President, Mrs Toyin Saraki led a campaign against sepsis and poor hygiene in health centres in Nigeria. Mrs Saraki is Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) and the Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives.
In her keynote address to mark this year’s International Day of the Midwife (IDM), Mrs Saraki said: “the health sector in Nigeria and around the world must implement the WHO 2017 World Health Assembly Sepsis Resolution.” She said hand hygiene must be a quality indicator in every facility and a national marker of health care quality, with access to soap and water monitored and assessed.
“I am declaring war on sepsis and poor hygiene in health centres – alongside midwives and nurses, I will promote hand hygiene amongst health workers and champion WASH in healthcare facilities,” Mrs Saraki added at the event that was hosted by the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) in Abuja.
According to WHO, 29% of healthcare facilities in Nigeria do not have access to safe water and toilets, whilst a Water Aid survey revealed that half of the primary health facilities do not have hand washing facilities in their delivery rooms. Based on that, the organisation said pregnant women and newborns are placed in huge danger and at risk of sepsis, which is a leading cause of death in hospitals.
As the Founder-President of the WBFA, Mrs Saraki said she works with the nation’s midwives through “our MamaCare and EmONC programmes to ensure that mother and baby are safe from birth through to age,” adding: “Without adequate WASH facilities, however, midwives all over the world are unable to safely carry out their crucial work – and to lead the way with quality care.” Mrs Saraki commended frontline health workers for their passion and dedication to saving lives commenting: “I commit myself to always championing your voices and your priorities – and making sure that your experiences and knowledge are at the forefront as we create a better and safer health care system.”
Mrs Saraki’s keynote speech came after the launch last Friday of a new, global WASH campaign, initiated by the Wellbeing Foundation Africa in partnership with the World Health Organization, Global Water 2020 and others, which aims to transform water, sanitation and hygiene in healthcare centres and schools around the world.
Responding to her remarks Dr Wondi Alemu, WHO Representative and Head of Mission in Nigeria, commented: “We know that health facilities must be a focus for us to concentrate on patient safety – handwashing is key for all facilities, including in primary health care. Implementing hygiene standards in health centres will bring down disease transmission. I would like to assure you that the whole of WHO supports the foundation in this campaign and I commit myself as the WHO representative to support you.”