Health experts from the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Public Health Division were recently deployed to Kiribati to assist with COVID-19 response.
One area of focus has been infection, prevention, and control (IPC) and SPC’s IPC Advisor Margaret Leong along with the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) IPC specialist Louise Laurie, worked with the Kiribati Ministry of Health team and IPC focal point Toata Kaufusi to strengthen and improve IPC measures.
Margaret shares that the first step towards improving existing IPC measures was to conduct assessments of IPC practices at the Tungaru Central Hospital wards and Emergency Department.
“Our assessments, coupled with IPC education and training on hand hygiene, putting on and removing of personal protective equipment (PPE), environmental cleaning, allowed us to identify gaps and strengthen core elements for IPC. While setting up standard operating procedures (SOPs) is important, ensuring practical solutions to support IPC measures is just as critical”.
One area of IPC that has been strengthened through collaborative effort at the Tungaru Central Hospital is the setup of a system for PPE distribution to improve timely access to PPE for healthcare workers. Initial assessment reported that health workers were unable to access PPE in a timely and efficient manner
To rectify this issue, a PPE Imprest system was installed, and an SOP developed to ensure efficient and timely distribution to the clinical wards. An educational training session on the new SOP and awareness sessions on the IPC measures required for safely accessing and restocking PPE was conducted.
Kiribati Director of Nursing, Helen Murdoch said setting up of these processes for accessing PPE’s is critical as it helps with ensuring there is an adequate supply accessible to health care workers while ensuring the inventory is in order.
“This also means that we are able to address rationing of PPEs to our healthcare workers. We are thankful for the support from SPC and WHO as we have not only gained experiences but also set up ourselves to sustain PPE supplies and practice good IPC measures”.
The team deployed also provided support and assisted the Kiribati Ministry of Health and Medical Services in the area’s laboratory, clinical services, biomedical engineering, coordination, and data management.