Infection Prevention and Control: Keeping People and Communities Safe
What Is Infection Prevention and Control (IPC)?
Infection prevention and control refers to policies and procedures used to minimize the risk of spreading infections, especially in hospitals and health care facilities. Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with highly contagious body fluids, such as blood, vomit, urine, saliva, and sweat. Consequently, IPC procedures for treating people with Ebola or handling people who died of Ebola are very strict.
Early in the Ebola outbreak, many primary and secondary health care facilities did not have basic IPC guidelines or equipment in place, increasing the risk of disease transmission. Frontline health care workers were often the first point of contact for Ebola cases, and many times more likely to contract Ebola than the general adult population.
In response, organizations such as WHO, CDC, MSF, and other non-governmental organizations rapidly formed partnerships with Ministries of Health in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. These partnerships addressed the critical need for coordinated infection control with standard operating procedures and increased availability of IPC equipment and supplies. Consistent measures were put into place for triage and isolation, care and treatment, and waste management. Health care workers were trained in the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It was crucial to instill confidence that health care workers could safely treat Ebola patients when equipped with the right PPE, supplies, and training.
Dr. Sarah Bennett, who led CDC's infection prevention and control efforts in Sierra Leone, discusses the difficulty of training staff in infection prevention in the middle of an outbreak. (Transcript)