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Improving Hygiene in Health Care Facilities

Project Title: Best Practices for Environmental Cleaning in Health Care Facilities
March 2020
Ms. De Bruin, who has worked as a passionate and dedicated environmental cleaning staff for over 40 years at a hospital in Cape Town, South Africa demonstrates best practices for mopping floors in a patient care area. Photo credit: CDC
Ms. De Bruin, who has worked as a passionate and dedicated environmental cleaning staffer for more than 40 years at a hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, demonstrates best practices for mopping floors in a patient care area. Photo credit: CDC

Highlight

This effort represents a major accomplishment to publish the first-ever comprehensive guidance on environmental cleaning in health care facilities in low- and middle-income countries. It highlights successful global engagement with both international partners and specific country-level engagement with key stakeholders. Poor hygiene in health care facilities contributes significantly to infections and mortality and disproportionately affects women and children.

The Story

If there were a set of environmental cleaning guidelines for health care facilities that could prevent millions from infections and protect women during childbirth, wouldn’t those be worth implementing? Poor environmental hygiene in health care facilities contributes to health care-associated infections (HAI) and antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which affect millions of people, including new mothers, each year. To provide systematic guidance for improving health care environmental hygiene, CDC’s International Infection Control Program engaged global partners to develop the first-ever Best Practices for Environmental Cleaning in Healthcare Facilities in Resource-Limited Settings.

International experts came together, built strong partnerships, and compiled essential data to address information gaps through this important publication. This influential work has already affected global and national-level guidance documents, including the World Health Organization (WHO) implementation manual on control of carbapenem-resistant organisms and the new South Africa National Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) guidelines (2019). 

During the 2018–2019 Ebola outbreak, the Democratic Republic of the Congo used the best practices outlined in this guide as part of the national-level IPC capacity building efforts. Global experts used the environmental cleaning for health care facilities guidance to develop standard operating procedures and training modules focused on identified best practices.

Most recently, the best practices are being used to inform WHO IPC guidance and training materials developed for the current COVID-19 response. As the first comprehensive guidance on environmental hygiene in health care in resource-limited settings, this is expected to have a sustained and broad impact globally. Health care workers can easily adapt these guidelines as facility-level or national guidelines to allow for long-overdue standardization of best practices. Furthermore, it is now possible to develop assessment forms and other tools to make program enhancements. As a result, there should be substantial improvements made in the often-neglected area of environmental hygiene in health care settings. Ultimately, this will help to improve patient safety and reduce infections in health care facilities globally, bringing family members home a little earlier and much safer.  

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Strategic Objective(S)

Access to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation

Tool/Approach

Provide technical assistance
Promote science, technology, innovation, and information
Strengthen partnerships, intergovernmental organizations, and the international community

Countries