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Empowering Infection Prevention Measures in Low-Income Countries: An East African Experience

In the ever-evolving landscape of global healthcare, the stories of Heather Saunders and Stephanie Mayoryk, renowned Infection preventionists (IPs), underscore the transformative impact of dedicated IP efforts in low-income nations, specifically East Africa. Despite several challenges encountered, their journey stimulates a global proactive approach among IPs, focusing on superior patient care while fostering resolute hope and passion in the field. Communicable diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), malaria, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections, and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), remain leading factors of death and disability in underserved countries as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Hence, implementing infection prevention and control in healthcare settings and communities is crucial to mitigate preventable maladies and fatalities from such diseases globally. Saunders, contributing author for Infection Control Today (ICT), and Mayoryk were presented with an opportunity to serve as IP consultants for a series of remote ambulatory clinics in East Africa. This inaugural experience facilitated an in-depth understanding of the challenges and potential of implementing IP measures in resource-limited regions while rendering solutions and strategies for improvement. Saunders embarked on this path, inspired by an internship in East Africa, leading her to passionately aspire towards global health improvement.

When offered to collaborate with East African medical clinics, she enthusiastically chose to utilize her IP expertise to promote ongoing efforts towards disease prevention. Mayoryk, after navigating parenthood and steep professional roles, started a consulting enterprise, paving the path for her desire to wield her IP expertise globally. Upon being invited to this venture, she accepted the opportunity enthusiastically. Gardner and Mayoryk were tasked with delivering education on IP and control based on the clinics’ capabilities and needs, drawn from an understanding they developed through numerous virtual meetings.

Deploying existing assessment tools from institutions like WHO, CDC, and others, they derived a tailored tool focused on hand hygiene, cleaning, disinfection, instrument reprocessing, waste management, safe injection practices, and disease-specific prevention efforts. They recorded their observations in a detailed report, highlighting strengths and areas of improvement alongside referential public health guidelines. However, the successful implementation of these measures wasn’t devoid of difficulties, particularly due to resource/capability limitations and compliance challenges. They noted the significance of understanding driving factors before mandating solutions.

Furthermore, they were impressed by the cultural adaptations and barrier-free communications amidst language and cultural diversities. The uniqueness of the community’s passion for song and dance, as well as the practice of community talks, helped in tailoring their training approach. Reiterating their experiences, Saunders and Mayoryk expressed interest in providing monthly consultations to the clinic leadership, their aim being to guide them in implementing improvements in infection prevention and control. They are also currently developing educational materials for community health volunteers to help address some of the ongoing educational needs identified. By forging a continued partnership with the clinics, they hope to unlock more opportunities to better infection prevention and control in low-income communities. Their story inspires other IPs to seek similar opportunities to make a global impact.


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