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The HANDS project – funded by the Medical Research Council – has been examining the barriers to good hand hygiene across 10 high volume maternity units in Zanzibar.

Soapboxer Giorgia Gon, has been working on the project with colleagues at the University of Aberdeen and the Zanzibar Ministry of Health. The latest phase of the project came to a close in March with a 2 day workshop with partners from the Ministry of Health, Jhpiego and WaterAid Tanzania among other partners. The workshop focussed on interpreting the findings of the study and was followed by group discussions about the use of the results to promote good hand hygiene practices. In addition, 2 focus group discussions were carried out with orderlies to discuss the findings and discuss how they would restructure the maternity layout to improve workflow and make practising good hand hygiene easier.

The next stage of the project will see the start of pre-testing the candidate interventions agreed during the workshop. One of the main referral hospitals will be introducing gel to improve hand hygiene compliance. Other interventions include the introduction of delivery kits (including cord clamps, scissors, gauzes and cotton) and re-organisation of the maternity layout for workflow efficiency at another district hospital. We will be testing whether these two interventions are feasible and what would require to improve them in this context if carried out at scale. In recognition of International Day of the Midwife (5th May) , over 100 midwifes will gather to celebrate together. The midwifes decided that the day will have a major focus on hand hygiene including educational events that will including learning how to make and use their own hand gel to improve hand hygiene.