In October 2017, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) launched its Framework for Antimicrobial Resistance Control to minimise infections within healthcare facilities significantly. In April 2018, a workshop was convened involving Member States and partners to determine priorities for implementing this framework. A primary recommendation was to define minimum standards for safe healthcare facilities, infection prevention and control (IPC) structures, and processes across all levels, including a system for monitoring of healthcare–associated infections.
In April 2019, Africa CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) held a technical consultation with Member States to develop minimum standards for healthcare facilities and IPC programs in low- and middle-income countries. Member States committed to developing an IPC Legal Framework to guide IPC operations in Africa. This framework would address accountability mechanisms, resource allocation, leadership structure, and monitoring and evaluation. The IPC Legal Framework underwent validation through physical and virtual meetings with IPC and legal experts across African Union (AU) Member States. Subsequently, Member States endorsed and adopted it during the Executive Council meeting Executive Council/ EX.CL/1371(XLI)
The IPC Legal Framework has received high-level political support, exemplified by the African Union’s endorsement of the Declaration on African Common Position on Antimicrobial Resistance, Assembly/AU/Decl.3(XXXIII) in February 2020. This Legal Framework is a benchmarking tool to strengthen IPC programs and initiatives. It aids in identifying potential gaps and barriers within existing legal instruments related to IPC. AU Member states can utilize the IPC Legal Framework to guide the development of country-specific IPC legal instruments and subsequent policy guidance where IPC-related legal instruments are lacking. The IPC Legal Framework is structured into six domains, calling for establishing national IPC programs, developing national IPC standards, designing education and training programs, establishing monitoring and evaluation tools, and implementing IPC at the health facility level.
Africa CDC actively supports six (6) AU Member States in adopting the IPC Legal Framework. Cameroon has successfully piloted this process with assistance from a joint Africa CDC and WHO workshop. This workshop aimed to establish a sustainable national IPC program, complete with a strategic plan, operational plan, monitoring and evaluation tools, and budget for IPC activities. Recommendations from the workshop included the development of an IPC legal framework, creating a road map for IPC action plans, and formulating IPC standards and national guidelines.
IPC Assessments in Member States
Another pilot assessment of IPC practices in primary healthcare facilities in Liberia has provided valuable insights into the current state of IPC measures and areas for improvement. Key findings include enhancing IPC training for healthcare workers, strengthening Antimicrobial stewardship efforts, addressing resource gaps in staffing and materials, exploring diverse waste treatment methods, and supporting access to occupational health services for healthcare workers.
The Southern Africa Regional Coordinating Centre (RCC)
In the Southern Africa region, the IPC Technical Working Group (TWG), chaired by Zimbabwe, has been established under the Southern Africa Regional Coordinating Centre (SA-RCC). This TWG aims to raise awareness and advocate for adopting the Africa CDC Legal Framework. Member States have shared detailed presentations on IPC program implementation in their respective countries, and field visits and assessments have been conducted in facilities to observe IPC practices and gather data.
Implementing the IPC Legal Framework will be instrumental in all these member states as they apply it to establish IPC structures, leadership, coordination, healthcare-associated infection surveillance, and module updates in regulated intervals as decided by the RCC.
In conclusion, the launch of the AMR strategic plan and the subsequent endorsement of the Africa CDC IPC Legal Framework underscore the organization’s commitment to implementing infection prevention and control measures in healthcare facilities across member states. This commitment aims to significantly reduce healthcare-associated infections in Africa, ensuring greater safety for both patients and healthcare workers.
Dorothy Wambeti Njagi, Senior Communication Officer – Policy, Health Diplomacy & Communication: Africa CDC | Tel: +251 940 559 950 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
G. Nekerwon Gweh, Communication Officer – Policy, Health Diplomacy & Communication; Africa CDC | Tel: +251 945 502 310 | Email: GwehN@africa-union.org