The Challenges of Infection Prevention and Control in Resource Limited Countries

Dr Peta-Anne Zimmerman RN CICP-E1, 2, 3

1 Griffith Graduate Infection Prevention and Control Program, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University
2 Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service,
3 Menzies Health Institute QLD
Parklands Drive, Southport, QLD 4215,


At present, resources and expertise in the prevention and control of healthcare associated infection (HAI) in low- and middle income (LMI) countries is minimal. Most LMI countries are struggling with this issue. Often they lack (or have minimal) infection control guidelines, infrastructure, policy directives or persons responsible for establishing, implementing and monitoring infection prevention and control programmes (IPCP) which are compounded by competing local health priorities. Individual case studies have illustrated how an IPCP can be adopted with little involvement from external agencies and how important it is to recognise performance gaps to catalyse change in healthcare. Awareness of staff within the health system to identify opportunities is paramount as is their ability to motivate change and seek the resources to enable it.

The challenges in applying infection prevention and control in these settings are not related to a general lack of knowledge of healthcare workers (HCW), but of a reliance on international guidelines and consultants to do the “quick fix”. The challenge is often working with Ministries of Health to recognize the investment in infection control capital, infrastructure and human resources at a national level for patient and healthcare worker safety, to filter down to healthcare delivery. External agencies have a responsibility to cease the perpetuation of paternalistic engagement, rather foster partnerships.

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