Healthcare worker helping patient

Training Healthcare Staff to Prevent COVID-19

Photo by CRS staff

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Infection prevention and control processes and structures have been strengthened across the West Bank health system.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare system in the West Bank has recurrently battled the impact of the virus on its communities and people. In West Bank healthcare facilities, more than 228,000 cases and 2,775 deaths1 have been recorded in a population of only 3.1 million.2 Such a high caseload meant that facilities were constantly responding to new COVID-19 cases while balancing the needs of existing patients. As cases surged across three peak periods, the lack of trained staff capable of addressing vital needs, meant the high-quality infection prevention standards required to maintain patient and healthcare worker safety waned.

“The quality leadership and healthcare management systems, as well as improvements in performance measurement. Trainings led to a noticeable positive shift in the application of infection prevention and control standards in healthcare.”

Training participant Issa Siryani
Environmental Services Department Manager,
Caritas Baby Hospital, Bethlehem

Infection prevention and control is an essential priority of West Bank healthcare facilities, but, as the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelmed them with its speed and intensity, they lacked the quality assurance, and infection prevention and control workforce needed to minimize outbreaks within healthcare institutions. Such a labor force is tasked with ensuring all staff—including doctors, nurses, administrators and cleaning staff— understand and adhere to the hygiene and sanitation protocols essential to reducing the spread of infection within a facility.

Hospital workers in protective gear.

Infection prevention, and control standards training participants took part in practice exercises on how to mitigate the spread of infection. Photo by CRS staff.

To address this vital human resource gap, the CRS COVID-19 Emergency Rapid Response project, alongside the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health, provided specialized training to 403 healthcare staff from 14 West Bank healthcare facilities to ensure they were well-prepared as the COVID-19 context evolved. Through generous United States Agency for International Development funding, key healthcare staff received focused infection prevention and control standards training that enabled staff to meet the needs of COVID-19 patients while protecting themselves and others from the disease.

403 healthcare staff from 14 West Bank healthcare facilities were trained in infection prevention and control

Focus of IPC Training

  • How to track and forecast use of personal protective equipment
  • Safe triage
  • Exercises on how to mitigate the spread of infection

Training participants received in-person instruction on the IPC guidelines established by the World Health Organization, which included how to track and forecast the use of personal protective equipment, safe patient triage, and practice exercises on how to mitigate the spread of infection. The training provided technical guidance and instruction to quality assurance, and infection prevention and control focal points on how to monitor and apply IPC best practices at their facilities.

The IPC standards training provided both health ministry and nongovernmental healthcare facilities with a cadre of qualified IPC focal points who will ensure patients and healthcare staff are safeguarded from COVID-19 infection in the months to come. Also, through this investment in key healthcare staff, IPC processes and structures have been strengthened across the West Bank healthcare system, and benefits will continue to be reaped from the learnings provided as they cascade down from training participants to their teams and colleagues.

1. World Health Organization. (2021). Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the occupied Palestinian territory (Updated July 15, 2021)./span>
2. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (2021). Estimated population in Palestine mid-year by governorate, 1997-2021.