Editor's Comment

Keep rats out of hospitals

Kitwe Teaching Hospital.

THE 1778 popular proverb “Cleanliness is indeed next to godliness” credited to John Wesley’s sermon is still relevant today.
Cleanliness and good hygiene are inseparable.
Therefore, being clean and tidy is a good habit to lead a healthy life. This is not restricted to humans but corporates as well.
People should take care of their habitats in the same way they look after their bodies.
It is therefore embarrassing to hear about an incident in which a dead person’s body was reportedly ravaged by rodents at Kitwe Teaching Hospital (KTH).
That there are rodents at KTH, one of the most revered health facilities in the country, is saddening because it is confirmation of lack of cleanliness.
Health facilities in themselves are expected to epitomise cleanliness all the time. Rodents at KTH does not bode well for an institution that is expected to give hope to patients.
Having clean standards at a health facility is important to not only help patients have the confidence of quality healthcare, but also ensure limitation of spread of diseases.
A health facility’s cleanliness is an important component of overall health and safety as it is a cardinal contributor to controlling the spread of infections.
No patient will be comfortable to see not just rodents but other parasites such as house flies, mosquitoes and cockroaches.
Imagine a patient on a drip or oxygen seeing rodents, houseflies, mosquitoes or cockroaches? They may find the process of healing difficult.
Even the stench of filth in wards tends to put off patients, including care-givers and medical staff.
The healing process is enabled by a clean environment. It costs very little to sanitise the health facilities.
Incidents such as what occurred in Kitwe should not arise in the 21st century, especially given the strides Government has made in ensuring that the health sector receives the attention it deserves.
As Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya told Parliament yesterday, Government has significantly improved healthcare delivery by increasing infrastructure and personnel.
Apart from the 650 health posts being constructed countrywide, every district has a hospital while all provincial hospitals have been upgraded.
Government has also improved staffing levels in health facilities countrywide by employing more doctors, nurses, laboratory and environmental technologists.
For instance, the ratio of nurses to patients at the University Teaching Hospital has reduced to one to eight, which is commendable.
This should be supplemented by good hygiene to give patients higher satisfaction levels.
Staff running health facilities such as KTH should be wary of the perception patients and their care-giver’s have about them.
A patient, visitor and care-givers perception of their healthcare environment will impact their overall experience and opinion of a health institution’s and staff practice.
Imagine what perception the relatives of the dead person whose body rodents fed on have about KTH?
A health facility’s environment and appearance can create a lasting impression on patients, care-givers and visitors.
It calls for a deep introspection by KTH staff because this is not a matter they can easily sweep under the carpet given the sanctity of a human body – living or dead.
Given the investment in the health sector, hygiene standards are expected to be at their best all the time so that patients are not traumatised.

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