Through our work in low and middle-income countries Soapbox has developed a longstanding interest in the essential role of health facility cleaning staff and the part they play in reducing the threat to mothers and newborns from healthcare-associated infections (HCAI). Cleaners are the interface between water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and infection prevention and control (IPC) and yet, despite this, often remain comparatively neglected within facilities – untrained and with no real knowledge of IPC.
We are therefore delighted to announce that we will be working with partners on the newly funded ‘Clean Study’ which will investigate whether training ‘cleaning champions’, to educate hospital cleaners in best practice methods, improves environmental hygiene in maternity and newborn units in three Tanzanian hospitals.
The multi-disciplinary partnership composed of researchers from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), NHS Lanarkshire, Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) and The Soapbox Collaborative, will be led by Dr Alexander Aiken. The study will begin by identifying staff in each hospital who will become local ‘cleanliness champions’ through training and mentorship. Soapbox’s participatory training package will be adapted to the local context and used to support learning. The ‘cleaning champions’ in turn will educate and supervise existing cleaners of maternity and newborn units employing standard Quality Improvement tools. Assessments before and after training will measure changes in knowledge, beliefs, skills and behaviour of champions and cleaners.
It is hoped that lessons learnt from this study will help inform a larger trial which will assess the intervention’s effectiveness in relation to environmental hygiene on maternity and newborn units in Tanzania and the prevalence of HCAI in mothers and newborns.
This Joint Global Health Trial development grant is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) the UK Medical Research Council (MRC), and the Wellcome Trust. The project is due to begin in Spring 2018 and we look forward to sharing progress and updates over the course of the 18-month study.
Photo: Piloting Soapbox’s participatory training package in the Gambia