News article

Local production of WHO handrub during and after the Ebola crisis in West-Africa

The local production of alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) has two major benefits for Africa. First, it greatly reduces the cost of producing and purchasing alcohol rub thereby increasing compliance to one of the most effective Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) intervention to date.  Second, the lack of water to wash hand can be a major hindrance for healthcare workers’ compliance as many healthcare facilities do not have regular and clean water supply. ABHR is an excellent substitute to decontamination of hands which are free of organic matter.

ABHR is part of the World Health Organization (WHO) list of Essential Medicines and allows universal hand hygiene promotion. It is one of the IPC measures that became crucial at the peak of the Ebola epidemic in West-Africa.

The video below shows how the local production of the WHO ABHR formulation in Guinea and Liberia was made possible through training of pharmacists in both countries. The set of kits to locally produce ABHR were developed in Geneva and distributed with the financial and logistical support of the Swiss agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). In addition, IPC training was supported by the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG) and the Clean Hands Save Lives funds (Foundation Philanthropia).

This approach will also renew the essential confidence among and between the local population and healthcare workers that had been highly affected during the epidemic. Local production, sustainable training and political commitment are the ingredients for success in the long run.

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