The government is planning to introduce a state policy for hospital infection prevention and control. The move assumes significance given the fact that during the recent Nipah outbreak several people who succumbed to the disease were infected with the deadly virus during their hospital stay.

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan recently called for a meeting in this regard. “We are working on the hospital infection control strategy. We are looking at how in a hospital set-up, we can prevent health workers and patients from getting infected. How do we ensure no pathogenic organisms grow at the hospital? What are the prevention practices and universal precaution that the hospitals must take? The state policy will be based on a framework formulated by the World Health Organization (WHO),” said health secretary Rajeev Sadanandan.

Policy implementation

Almost 18-20% deaths in the state happen due to hospital acquired infection. During the Nipah virus disease outbreak, majority (except four patients) of those who died acquired the infection from the hospital. In the initial phase, the government is planning to ensure policy implementation in government hospitals. It may be extended to private hospitals once the clinical establishment Act is implemented.

State-wide program

“In the meeting with the CM, we discussed the overall aspects of the policy framework. We are looking at what should be the structure and core ingredients of the policy and on its basis, a state-wide program will be prepared. Different variations of it will be implemented at government and district hospitals,” said the health secretary. Sources said at the meeting, the emphasis was also on formulating guidelines.

“As there are so many guidelines available, we decided to adopt one and customize it according to the needs of the state. To begin with, surveillance will start in one or two ICUs along with surveillance of chest infection and urinary tract infections,” said an official present at the meeting. Also, the work done on antimicrobial resistance in hospitals across the state and integrated system of medicine that has been adapted by medical colleges were also discussed.

“The methods of surveillance introduced by hospitals post Nipah outbreak were also discussed,” added the officer. A nodal officer will be posted to look at the overall implementation of the policy across the state. Also, there will be a nodal officer for each hospital to ensure strict implementation, besides hospital infection control nurses who will oversee the implementation on the ground.