What you need to know:
- The device produces five litres of the disinfectant per hour and works for at least eight hours a day, which is more than 40 litres of disinfectant a day. Dr Mwebesa said they want to find out whether bigger facilities may require more than one device for each unit.
Government has approved the introduction of on-site chlorine solution generators so as to cut spending by hospitals on the disinfectant and reduce the burden of hospital-acquired infections.
Many health facilities in the country, according to a report presented on Friday last week by the Health ministry and PATH Uganda, a non-governmental organisation, spend 74 out of 365 days without a disinfectant, which compromises infection prevention and control (IPC).
The report blamed the stock- out on inaccurate forecasting and delays in supply by the National Medical Stores.
Speaking in an interview on Friday last week after the unveiling of the new technology, Dr Henry Mwebesa, the director general of health services, said the system is cheaper.
“You just need [common] salt, water and the equipment. But also of importance is that the system produces chlorine where you are sure of the concentration of 0.5 percent. The chlorine, which we have been using in most of our facilities, required the staff to dilute themselves,” he said.
Dr Mwebesa added: “And in the process of diluting, they have not been very consistent sometimes. Sometimes, it [the chlorine solution] is over-concentrated or under-concentrated.”
He explained that when the solution is over-concentrated, it destroys the equipment and trolleys through corrosion, and destroys gowns when used to disinfect or wash them.
The device produces five litres of the disinfectant per hour and works for at least eight hours a day, which is more than 40 litres of disinfectant a day. Dr Mwebesa said they want to find out whether bigger facilities may require more than one device for each unit.
The ministry, along with PATH Uganda, first rolled out the technology to 10 hospitals and the reports from the facilities indicate that the disinfectant stock-out was “eliminated.”
Ms Robinah Ajok, the programme officer under the stream chlorination project at PATH Uganda, explained that apart from salt, water and the device, a power source is needed to generate the disinfectant.
“This salt is mixed with water. If you want to generate 20 litres of the hypochlorite solution for disinfection, all you need to do is 300g of salt (a third of a kilogramme), and then mix with 20 litres of water to make a salt solution,” she said.
Sodium hypochlorite is the active ingredient in most household bleaches and it kills germs even at very low concentrations and is excellent at removing stains and unpleasant odours.
After dissolving the salt in water, you switch on the device. “When you switch on the device, the peristaltic tank rotates and sucks in water and brings it into the reaction chamber,” Mr Thomas Mugumya, the PATH chlorine programme officer, explained.
Mr Mugumya added: “In this reaction chamber is where the salt (sodium chloride solution –the mixture of salt and water) is converted to into hypochlorite solution (disinfectant commonly known as JIK). It comes out at a consistent concentration of 0.5 percent. We have test strips that are used to ascertain the concentration.”
Ms Ajok revealed that they have about 50 chlorine solution generators that they will roll out (donate) to additional facilities. “The machine has a one-time cost of $2,650 (Shs9.8 million) but the prices can reduce when one is buying many,” she added.