Environmental health is “shockingly lacking” worldwide

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Peters did not disclose the relevant financial disclosures. Please see the financial disclosure study of all other authors.

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Many health facilities around the world do not have good environmental hygiene practices, a study found.

“After seeing the state of environmental health in healthcare (HEH) internationally, our team wanted to come up with a tool that could help healthcare facilities improve, regardless of their level of resources.” Alexandra Peters, Ph.D, scientific director of the infection control program Clean Hospitals and the WHO Center for Cooperation in Patient Safety, told Healio. “The pilot study was the first step in developing this tool.”

Hand washing

A pilot study found that many healthcare facilities around the world do not have environmental health practices in healthcare. Source: Adobe Stock.

Alexandra Peters

The study was developed by a group of experts and is based on the WHO’s strategy to improve multimodal hand hygiene, which includes five objectives, including ensuring that the necessary infrastructure is in place to allow health professionals to practice hand hygiene, providing regular training , monitoring hand hygiene practices and infrastructure, and providing feedback on performance and results.

The main objective of the study was to test a preliminary version of the HEH self-assessment framework. Researchers use it to collect data on HEH programs around the world. They sent the study to 743 health facilities (HCF) from all income levels of the World Bank.

A total of 51 HCFs from 35 countries participated, of which 98% reported that HEH was missing in some or all of the five components of the WHO strategy.

In addition, 71% of respondents believe that their facility attaches sufficient importance to HEH, and 47% believe that the budget allocated for cleaning and disinfection is adequate. Other findings include that 67% of HCFs report that HEH products and consumables are always available, while 27% say they are sometimes available and 6% say they are never or rarely available. Among the 90% of HCFs who report that HEH equipment and supplies are available, 16% are still unable to perform adequate sterilization because the equipment is not in good working order.

Other survey results show that only more than 50% of HCFs report that their protocols are based on best practices and are updated regularly, and that only 22% of HCFs provide or require – if staff have been outsourced – comprehensive formal training. for HEH when hiring. In addition, 28% did not provide or did not require formal training at all.

Peters said the data showed that HEH programs were “shockingly lacking around the world” even in rich countries.

“HEH is not only a technical problem, but also a human one,” she said. “Cleaning staff have a very important role to play in patient safety. Institutions need to train and support human components as well as technical ones. ”


APIC. A new study illustrates the challenges of environmental health care in facilities around the world. https://apic.org/news/new-survey-illustrates-challenges-associated-with-healthcare-environmental-hygiene-in-facilities-worldwide/. Accessed June 2, 2022.

WHO. A guide to implementing the WHO multimodal hand hygiene strategy. https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/a-guide-to-the-implementation-of-the-who-multimodal-hand-hygiene-improvement-strategy. Accessed June 2, 2022.

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