Hand hygiene compliance at two tertiary hospitals in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in 2021: a cross-sectional study

GN Kamara, S Sevalie, B Molleh, Z Koroma, C Kallon, A Maruta, IF Kamara, JS Kanu, JSO Campbell, HD Shewade, S van Henten, Anthony D. Harries

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


Hand hygiene actions are essential to reduce healthcare-associated infections and the development of antimicrobial resistance. In this cross-sectional study at two tertiary hospitals, Freetown, Sierra Leone, we observed hand hygiene compliance (defined as using handwash with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) amongst healthcare workers between June and August 2021. Using the WHO Hand Hygiene tool, observations were made in relation to the type of opportunity, different wards and types of healthcare worker. Overall, 10,461 opportunities for hand hygiene were observed, of which 5086 (49%) resulted in hand hygiene actions. ABHR was used more often than handwash (26% versus 23%, p < 0.001). Overall, compliance was significantly better: after being with a patient/doing a procedure than before (78% after body fluid exposure risk compared with 24% before touching a patient—p < 0.001); in Paediatric (61%) compared with Medical wards (46%)—p < 0.001; and amongst nurses (52%) compared with doctors (44%)—p < 0.001. Similar patterns of compliance were observed within each hospital. In summary, hand hygiene compliance was sub-optimal, especially before being with a patient or before clean/aseptic procedures. Improvement is needed through locally adapted training, hand hygiene reminders in wards and outpatient departments, uninterrupted provision of ABHR and innovative ways to change behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2978
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • AMR
  • Sierra Leone
  • WHO hand hygiene standard observation tool
  • Alcohol-based hand rub
  • Hand hygiene compliance
  • Hand hygiene opportunities
  • Hospital-acquired infections
  • Infection prevention control
  • Operational research


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