Infection Prevention and Control

SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands

Poor hand hygiene leads to germ transmission including of those germs resistant to antibiotics. This can put patients at risk of potentially fatal health care-associated infections (HAI). Yet, in some facilities, a staggering 90% of health care workers do not clean their hands effectively. SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands is an annual, global campaign to support improvements in hand hygiene and COHESODEC Cameroon has done quite much in this regard in teaching primary and secondary school pupils and students on how to effectively wash the hands to prevent frequent/common contaminations of infectious diseases which can better save lives than embarking on clinical management which is more costly and sometimes such diseases are even resistant to treatment. In fact, prevention of diseases and viruses within local communities is often better than cure. Surgical site infections (SSIs) are the most frequent type of infection acquired during health care delivery in developing countries. In Africa, infections are the most frequent complication following surgery. Empowering teams and communities to implement interventions on surgical infection prevention measures and promotion of a wider patient safety culture is a key strategy to reducing such infections.

Effective infection prevention and control (IPC) is the cornerstone for the delivery of safe, effective, high-quality health care reason why COHESODEC often recommendations identifying the core components of effective IPC programs, to help local communities across Cameroon and health care facilities develop action plans to prevent current and future threats. These threats, like antibiotic resistance germs, the Ebola outbreak, and weak health systems, can be directly addressed through implementation of the core components of IPC outlined by COHESODEC Cameroon.

Critical role of infection prevention and control

No one should catch an infection while receiving health care, yet, hundreds of millions of people are affected every year in and even  Cameroon and even elsewhere; this is avoidable. And this alarming figure affects those providing health care too. Infection prevention and control (IPC) is a practical, evidence-based approach which prevents patients and health workers from being harmed and ensures quality health care. It involves practicing COHESODEC hand hygiene recommendations, having a clean and hygienic environment, monitoring infections and having action plans to reduce their frequency, never re-using needles and syringes, using antibiotics but only when truly needed, to reduce the risk of resistance. A large proportion of infections are caused by antibiotic resistant organisms; there is national consensus in Cameroon that urgent action is needed yet no funds to foster these good practices in all communities across Cameroon.

Surgical site infections

Surgical site infections (SSIs) occur following surgery, in the part of the body where the surgery took place, and are the most common type of health care-associated infection. The bacteria which cause SSIs can be resistant to commonly-used antibiotics and therefore threaten the lives of millions of patients every year. Ensuring that a range of preventive measures are in place will help stop the spread of germs, antibiotic resistance and reduce SSIs. The key measures include; appropriate skin disinfection before incision, ensuring that all surgical equipment is sterile, maintaining asepsis in the operating room, appropriate and timely antibiotic prophylaxis and the right surgical hand scrub.

Injection safety

Injections are among the most common health care procedures. Every year millions of injections are administered nationwide in Cameroon with approximately 90% given in curative care. But in some communities, up to 70% of the injections given are unnecessary and are furthermore administered in an unsafe way, by reusing syringes and needles. This causes the transmission of blood borne viruses. COHESODEC injection safety campaign calls gets the point – Make smart injection choices, aims to make injection practices safer for patients, health workers and the communities as a whole.

Disease Control in Humanitarian Emergencies

COHESODEC works towards reducing mortality and morbidity due to communicable diseases in populations affected by humanitarian emergencies: crisis, conflicts, natural disasters, food insecurity.

Our activities are focused on three areas of work: field epidemiology, trainings, and publication of technical standards, guidelines and tools.

We provide both technical and operational epidemiological services for the surveillance, monitoring, prevention and control of communicable diseases in humanitarian emergencies to Cameroonian communities in collaboration with United Nations agencies, nongovernmental and international organizations.

 Early warning surveillance and response in emergencies

One of the major objectives of COHESODEC in emergency situations is also to provide up-to-date information on the major communicable disease threats faced by the resident and displaced populations in emergency-affected communities across Cameroon. The information provided is designed for use in developing public health strategy, and in prioritizing and coordinating communicable disease control activities between all communities and stakeholders working in such settings. Diseases control and prevention is one of main areas of concern because of their high burden or epidemic potential for Cameroon and because they are (re)emerging diseases; that are, important but neglected tropical diseases subject to national elimination or eradication.

COHESODEC always endeavors to provide up-to-date information on the major communicable disease threats faced by the resident and displaced populations in Cameroon. The purpose of the information given is to assist with the strategy for, and the prioritization and coordination of, communicable disease control activities between all stakeholders working in Cameroon.

Partnerships

Whenever COHESODEC cannot single handedly carry out an activity which requires special expertise, we often do solicit the services of other experts specialized in that domain so as to ensure effective elimination of Communicable Diseases from communities during Emergencies. Such expertise always cuts across many areas on relevant diseases control strategies which provides expert advice for the development of guidelines and training material, and helps set standards and prioritize interventions for communicable diseases in acute and protracted humanitarian emergencies.

COHESODEC also develops and maintains inter-stakeholders partnerships with a range of humanitarian community based organizations in order to enhance technical coordination of communicable disease interventions in emergencies. Some of our partners often include other NGOs, UN agencies, and international organizations, universities, technical Institutions and various donors. Technical partnerships are also maintained with major denominational institutions such as: the Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church the Baptist church and other Pentecostal churches in order to ensure better emergency response.  This inclusion of religious bodies in emergency interventions is because “We need to take care of their reintegration in society after such emergencies.”

Emergencies preparedness, response

COHESODECD is working with all communities across Cameroon to respond to crises and emergencies by ensuring effective, efficient and timely actions to address public health priorities so that lives are saved and suffering is reduced; and to recover from crises by ensuring the local health system is back to functioning. COHESODEC is expanding from being primarily a technical and normative organization to a fully operational stakeholder in emergencies across Cameroon.

COHESODEC being an integrated national alert and response system for epidemics and other public health emergencies based on strong national public health systems and capacity and an effective international system for coordinated response has some core functional areas where it intervenes;

  • Support members of affected communities and local authorities for the effective implementation of local and national capacities for epidemic preparedness and response including laboratory capacities and early warning alert and response systems;
  • Supports local communities and national training programs for epidemic preparedness and response;
  • COHESODEC Coordinates and supports members of infected/affected communities for pandemic and seasonal influenza preparedness and response;
  • We also develop standardized approaches for readiness and response to major epidemic-prone diseases (e.g. meningitis, yellow fever, plague);
  • We strengthen biosafety, biosecurity and readiness for outbreaks of dangerous and emerging pathogens outbreaks operational community intervention to support outbreak response and support national implementation strategies at all levels.

Environmental health in emergencies

In managing environmental emergencies health risk in conflicts, and disasters settings which often  includes natural disasters, chemical or radiological incidents, complex emergencies, and deliberate events, COHESODEC attributes a substantial fraction of the disease burden derived from these events as environmental risk factors. We also intervene regarding main environmental risks to health during emergencies as well as help to address the different phases of the disaster management cycle for environmental health emergencies:

Key areas of our intervention;

Nutrition Health

In order to improve maternal, infant and young child nutrition, COHESODEC is determined to strengthening nutrition surveillance and scaling up action in nutrition. Regarding
research on the biological mechanisms of the effects of vitamin A supplementation given in the first days of life, essential micronutrients, minimization of malnutrition, ensuring nutrition in emergencies, nutrition and HIV/AIDS, nutrition and T.B, nutrition friendly schools initiative, nutrition for older persons and to fight against acute malnutrition, COHESODEC has put in place a Nutrition Response Intervention Team-(NRIT) to mitigate the impact of malnutrition in vulnerable communities across Cameroon. All these efforts are meant to promote healthy growth and preventing childhood stunting.

Collaborations and Partnerships

One of our core functions is also to direct and coordinate national health work by promoting collaboration, mobilizing partnerships and galvanizing efforts of different health actors to respond to local and national health challenges.

COHESODEC partners with communities, United Nations systems, international organizations, other civil society organizations, foundations, academia, and research institutions – to improve their health and support their development.

COHESODEC also seeks to working closely with the United Nations systems and agencies to support its local communities in Cameroon in achieving set priorities and ensuring better health outcomes for all. We strive to increase coherence, effectiveness and efficiency in delivering results in the field. Engagement is a key aspect of COHESODEC’s role in national health governance and ensuring local communities play a critical role in supporting COHESODEC’s work to fulfill its mandate.

Partnerships include various organizational structures, relationships and arrangements within and without the country to enhance collaboration in ensuring the achievement of better health outcomes. COHESODEC collaborating centres are institutions such as research institutes, parts of universities or academies, which are designated by the Management Board to carry out activities in support of the Organization’s programs.

Also, COHESODEC may from time to time solicit the services and technical guidance of external advisory experts. Such mechanism of collaboration with individuals’ experts from whom the Organization may obtain technical guidance and support can be invited to participate in an expert committee meeting to review and make technical recommendations on a subject of interest to the Organization.

Antimicrobial Resistance in the Food Chain

In COHESODEC develops and promotes guidelines to minimize the public health impact of antimicrobial resistance associated with the use of antimicrobials in food of animal origin. This is avoiding the widespread impact of animal/food borne diseases.

Chemical Risk

COHESODEC with the help of it’s consultants and partners develops scientific risk assessments to define safe exposure levels which form the basis for the development of local and national food safety standards to protect the health of the consumers and ensure fair trade practices.

Food Born Diseases

We also assist local communities in building capacity to prevent, detect and manage food-borne risks. COHESODEC’s activities include generating baseline and trend data on food-borne diseases and supporting implementation of adequate infrastructures (e.g. laboratories).

Food Hygiene

Equally, our organization assists local communities in Cameroon in promoting safe food handling through systematic disease prevention and health education programs directed to food handlers, including the consumers.

Food Technologies

COHESODEC Cameroon together with local, national and international partners provides local communities with sound scientific advice on the assessments of foods derived from new technologies such as genetic modifications of plant and animal species. We also develop scientific risk assessments, guidelines for risk management, including risk communication messages for all stakeholders, including the end users to assist the local and national communities in Cameroon improve their capacity to prevent and control food-borne diseases in the country.

Nutrition and Food Security

Our work also includes promoting the availability of safe, healthy and wholesome food for everyone to improve food safety and nutrition security. We strongly promote the integration of food safety into nutrition and food security programs in Cameroon.

Zoonoses and the Environment

Our organization works with partners across sectors within and without the country to evaluate and reduce the risks of transmission of zoonoses to humans through the consumption of animal products. COHESODEC provides guidance to local communities across Cameroon on how to reduce these risks in the food chain. We also monitor health inequality as an essential component to ensure no one is being left behind. Our organization has developed a package of resources and tools to encourage the practice of local and national health inequality monitoring and capacity building in the country.

Migration, care, work and health

The right to health means ending discrimination in all healthcare settings. Migrants who find themselves in Cameroon reserve the right to help in all healthcare facilities. Such migrants also reserve the right to proper care, absolute right to work in any sector of their choice in the country if such sectors deem them qualified and also have the right to access healthcare facilities of their choice without discrimination. We do all this in COHESODEC to promote migrant care in communities, significantly reduce health inequality, and find innovative approaches to propose to national health programs and to greatly promote the human rights and health concept in Cameroon. We equally promote through our organizational approach Gender equality in all facets of society in abide to ensure that different groups of women, men, boys and girls, have equal opportunities to achieve their full health potential. Such campaigns to ensure equity is often aimed to enhance fairness in the distribution of health facilities include remote communities across populations of Cameroon. Promoting gender, equity and human rights is our strategy to fight against discrimination and working towards leaving no one behind in the SDGs. The role of COHESODEC in strengthening gender equality, core principles and more about human rights-based approaches to health and other social domains in Cameroon cannot be overemphasized.

Health and Development

Better health is central to human happiness and well-being. It also makes an important contribution to economic progress, as healthy populations live longer, are more productive, and save more.

Many factors influence health status and Cameroon’s ability to provide quality health services for its people. Development organizations in the domain of health are important actors, but so are other government departments, donor organizations, and communities themselves. For example: investments in roads can improve access to health services; inflation targets can constrain health spending; and civil service reforms can create opportunities – or limits – to hiring more health workers.

For COHESODEC’s work on ‘Health and Social development’ issues to make sense given its complex links, all stakeholders must play their respective roles since they are closely interrelated. This is concerned with the impact of better health on development and poverty reduction, and conversely, with the impact of development policies on the achievement of health goals. In particular, COHESODEC aims to build support across local communities in Cameroon for higher levels of investment in health, and to ensure that health is prioritized within overall economic and development plans. In this context, ‘health and development’ work supports health policies that respond to the needs of the poorest groups in the country. We also work closely with interested donors to ensure that aid for health is adequate, effective and targeted at priority health problems in Cameroon. COHESODEC’s activity in the area of health and development work is mostly centered on the provision of training and capacity-building programs in local communities as well as the provision of various forms of assistance of utmost necessity.

Health and Environment Linkages Initiative

COHESODEC being a national Non Governmental Organization operating in Cameroon is putting in many efforts to ensure environmental protection which is intrinsically linked to the health of Cameroonians. Such commendable initiatives which directly support action by developing local and national strategic policy documents with the aim of fighting against environmental threats to health and have the potential of curbing the disturbing phenomenon of climate change currently prevailing in Cameroon. Environmental hazards are responsible for an estimated 25% of the total burden of diseases nationwide, and nearly 35% in the northern regions of the country which are either an integral part of the Sahara desert or share boundaries with the desert with its impending effects highly felt in these regions resulting in acute aridity and wanton consequences on the entire population.

COHESODEC in it’s approach to curb the phenomenon of climate change and the impending effects of climate change in the country encourages communities to address health and environment linkages as integral to economic development. Our organization supports valuation of ecosystem ‘services’ to human health and well-being – services ranging from climate regulation to provision/replenishment of air, water, food and energy sources which are very vital and essential for human existence and generally healthy living and working environments. Our activities include community-level pilot projects and refinement of assessment tools to support decision-making.

Promoting better access to knowledge and tools

Promoting better access to policy-relevant tools and knowledge about health and environment linkages is an essential activity of our organization and it focuses on education, training, and promotion of environmentally friendly routine tree planting projects in all vulnerable communities specifically in the most affected areas where intensive investment in vast tree planting projects is vital to reverse the tides. Investing in relevant policy tools and priority risks to the environment and health that are a special focus of COHESODEC in ensuring each priority risk area is focused on the human and monetary ‘cost’ of environmental hazards to health; practical ‘solutions’ that address the environment-health linkage, good practices and actions are paramount.

Policy relevant tools for collection, analysis and reporting of environment and health data, including monitoring and mapping of environment and health trends/indicators; and environmental burden of disease assessment as well as tools for linked consideration of health and environment impacts in policy and development decisions not excluding the
tools for economic valuation of linked health and environment impacts, as integral to the assessment process are very much vital for better access and essential knowledge in the promotion effort.

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