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Kenya: Curbing spread of diseases in Homa Bay county hospital

Alsahlmus Oketch is an Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Supervisor with MSF in Homa Bay. His role is very important because he ensures that appropriate measures are in place and upheld to prevent the spread of infections in the hospital where he works.

Ever wondered who refills those sanitizer bottles or ensures there is a washing station to wash your hands when you visit a hospital?

Alsahlmus Oketch is an Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Supervisor with MSF in Homa Bay. His role is very important because, in collaboration with the Homa Bay County Teaching and Referral Hospital IPC focal point, he ensures that appropriate measures are in place and upheld to prevent the spread of infections in the hospital where he works.

Ali, as he is popularly known, uses COVID-19 as a good example to drive his point. He says the virus is spread by people who are in close contact with an infected person or by touching contaminated surfaces, then touching the mouth, nose or eyes with the same contaminated hands. So, hand washing is one of the most important pillars of infection prevention and control.

As an IPC supervisor, Ali ensures that washing stations are functional at all strategic locations and that they are well supplied. His role is also to encourage clinical staff working in the MSF-supported wards to respect the  "Five Moments of hand hygiene " through on-the-job training, posters and hand hygiene observation.

“Doctors and nurses interact with patients at all times. It´s very easy for an infection to be transmitted from the patient to the doctor or from the doctor to the patient if safety precautions are not taken.”

Alsalmus (Ali) Oketch, Infection Prevention Control Supervisor, shows the separate color-coded waste bins inside the COVID-19 HDU at the Homa Bay County Teaching and Referral Hospital.  [© Enos Ambani/MSF]

Ali also makes sure that all surfaces and equipment, especially where healthcare is provided, are regularly disinfected and decontaminated, such as cleaning and sterilizing the dressing and stitching equipment. Medical waste has to be separated and properly disposed in color-coded bins, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and syringes, to increase safety.

“If the medical team does not dispose of medical waste and equipment properly after treating patients, there´s a high risk of exposure and infection to anyone coming in contact with waste. We care about the health of everyone who comes into the hospital.”

“Sometimes on my rounds I get feedback from people who have concerns. If we find any protocols that have not been followed, we will look into the situation and make improvements. We have put in place monitoring tools to ensure IPC protocols are carried out.”

Ali and his team are particularly proud of their diligence in maintaining high levels of cleanliness and waste management as the aim is to keep patient, staff, and visitors ultimately safe.

Due to the COVID-19 surge in May, 2021 MSF set up additional beds in HDU tents inside the hospital compound. This supported a comprehensive program of testing, case management, nutritional and psychosocial care. Even after the closure of the extra capacity HDU in August, 2021, MSF continues to support with regular follow-up of patients after their discharge, daily support supervision of remaining patients and continued testing of suspect patients during triage and in the adult internal medicine wards.


Read more from  Ali Oketch 

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