Supporting a local solution to fight a global pandemic

A clinician at a healthcare facility in Kisumu County, Kenya, posing with a bottle of alcohol-based hand rub provided by the CDC project.

A clinician at a healthcare facility in Kisumu County, Kenya, posing with a bottle of alcohol-based hand rub provided by the CDC project.

Hand hygiene is a simple and effective way to help prevent the spread of infections, such as COVID-19. However, people in low-resource settings often do not have access to hand hygiene supplies, such as soap, water, and alcohol-based hand rub. This is a serious problem in healthcare facilities, where both healthcare workers and patients risk infections if hand hygiene supplies are not available. A recent report pdf icon[PDF – 164 Pages]external icon from the Joint Monitoring Programme found that 27% of healthcare facilities in Sub-Saharan Africa lack hand hygiene supplies at points of care, with even lower rates of access in rural areas.

Improving access to hand hygiene supplies

To increase access to hand hygiene supplies in underserved healthcare facilities in Western Kenya, the Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch (WDPB) is supporting the production and distribution of alcohol-based hand rub by Safe Water and AIDS Projectexternal icon (SWAP)—a Kenyan nongovernmental organization.

Alcohol-based hand rub is a standard, effective measure against COVID-19 in clinical settings and where handwashing stations are not practical. However, commercially produced alcohol-based hand rub is often not available or too expensive to be a practical long-term solution in many settings. SWAP uses World Health Organizationexternal icon protocols to produce alcohol-based hand rub out of their lab in Kisumu and their product has been nationally certified to meet quality control standards. SWAP will work with focal points at each healthcare facility and within local governments to monitor alcohol-based hand rub distribution and usage and ensure facilities remain stocked.

WDPB helped design the project and secured funding for the work. WDPB is providing technical assistance on alcohol-based hand rub production, distribution of alcohol-based hand rub, and monitoring alcohol-based hand rub consumption and user concerns. Additionally, WDPB is sharing the knowledge they gained from an ongoing project of local alcohol-based hand rub production in healthcare facilities in Western Uganda.

With WDPB’s support, SWAP set up their alcohol-based hand rub production facilities and passed the Kenya Bureau of Standards testing, which allows them to produce and distribute alcohol-based hand rub for the next two years. They have secured raw materials to produce alcohol-based hand rub for all 37 healthcare facilities in the Nyando and Nyakach sub-counties in Kisumu county. So far, they have distributed alcohol-based hand rub to a third of all patient-care areas in these facilities and have plans to soon cover all patient-care areas. SWAP has also donated alcohol-based hand rub to government offices and markets to encourage hand hygiene and help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the area.

Bottles of alcohol-based hand rub locally produced by the Kenyan NGO SWAP

Bottles of alcohol-based hand rub locally produced by the Kenyan NGO SWAP

By building local production capacity and creating linkages between local producers and populations in need, this project provides a model for alcohol-based hand rub production and distribution in the Kenyan context and builds the capacity of a local partner to serve as a technical expert for potential expansion projects.

For more information on WDPB’s activities to support access to water, sanitation, and hygiene around the world, visit CDC’s WASH website.