Assessing the impact of a cleaning programme on environmental hygiene in labour and neonatal wards: an exploratory study in The Gambia

Uduak Okomo1, Giorgia Gon, Safatou Darboe, Isatou Sey, Oluwatosin Nkereuwem, Lamin Leigh, Nfamara Camara, Lamin Makalo, Abdoulie Keita, Stephanie J. Dancer, Wendy Graham, Alexander M. Aiken

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Effective surface cleaning in hospitals is crucial to prevent the transmission of pathogens. However, hospitals in low- and middle-income countries face cleaning challenges due to limited resources and inadequate training.

    We assessed the effectiveness of a modified TEACH CLEAN programme for trainers in reducing surface microbiological contamination in the newborn unit of a tertiary referral hospital in The Gambia. We utilised a quasi-experimental design and compared data against those from the labour ward. Direct observations of cleaning practices and key informant interviews were also conducted to clarify the programme's impact.

    Between July and September 2021 (pre-intervention) and October and December 2021 (post-intervention), weekly surface sampling was performed in the newborn unit and labour ward. The training package was delivered in October 2021, after which their surface microbiological contamination deteriorated in both clinical settings. While some cleaning standards improved, critical aspects such as using fresh cleaning cloths and the one-swipe method did not. Interviews with senior departmental and hospital management staff revealed ongoing challenges in the health system that hindered the ability to improve cleaning practices, including COVID-19, understaffing, disruptions to water supply and shortages of cleaning materials.

    Keeping a hospital clean is fundamental to good care, but training hospital cleaning staff in this low-income country neonatal unit failed to reduce surface contamination levels. Further qualitative investigation revealed multiple external factors that challenged any possible impact of the cleaning programme. Further work is needed to address barriers to hospital cleaning in low-income hospitals.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number36
    Number of pages10
    JournalAntimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2024


    • Cleaning
    • Environmental hygiene
    • Intervention
    • Labour ward
    • Low-and-middle-income countries
    • Neonate
    • Training


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