Infection prevention and control in healthcare facilities in Albania
Aim: The objective of this study was to assess the current status regarding Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) in selected healthcare facilities in Albania in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which continues unabated.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in April 2021 including a nationwide representative sample of 505 health professionals working mostly in primary health care centres in Albania (84 men and 421 women; response rate: 95%). A structured questionnaire developed by the World Health Organization was administered online to all participants inquiring about a wide range of measures and practices employed at health facility level for an effective IPC approach. Fisher’s exact test was used to assess potential urban-rural differences in the distribution of characteristics regarding IPC aspects reported by survey participants.
Results: About 47% of health facilities did not have a designated focal point for IPC issues; the lack of one patient per bed standard was evident in more than one-third of health facilities (37%); and the lack of an adequate distance between patient beds was reported in a quarter of health facilities (which was twice as high among health facilities in urban areas compared to rural areas). Furthermore, water services were always available only in about two-thirds of health facilities (63%), whereas an adequate number of toilets (at least two) was evident in slightly more than half of the health facilities surveyed (53%). Also, one out of four of the health facilities did not have functional hand hygiene stations and/or sufficient energy/power supply. A completely adequate ventilation was evidenced in slightly more than half of the health facilities (51%). Four out of five health facilities had always available materials for cleaning and about half (49%) had always available personal protective equipment. Functional waste collection containers were available in nine out of ten health facilities, of which, four out of five were correctly labelled.
Conclusion: This study informs about the existing structures, capacities and available resources regarding IPC situation in different health facilities in Albania. Policymakers and decision-makers in Albania and in other countries should prioritize investments regarding IPC aspects in order to meet the basic requirements and adequate standards in health facilities at all levels of care.
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