Rose Gathigia Ngugi

Generating national improvements in patient care

Rose Gathigia Ngugi, ICN, RN
The Nairobi Hospital
Nairobi, Kenya

Rose Gathigia Ngugi’s initiative and commitment have strengthened her profession and improved care for patients across Kenya.

Ngugi was initially motivated to learn about infection prevention and control (IPC) through experience as an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse at The Nairobi Hospital. “We worked hard to treat a patient’s primary problem, but then ended up fighting an infection,” said Ngugi.

She began educating herself about IPC, sharing her new knowledge with colleagues. Over time, infection prevention improvements in the ICU were noticeable. In 2003, Ngugi secured her hospital’s first infection prevention nurse position. “They were concerned about my youth, but I said, ‘Knowledge is power – I will do my best to always have the most current information,’” said Ngugi.

Looking for peers and support, Ngugi was surprised to learn that only four Kenyan hospitals had full-time infection control personnel; all were struggling in isolation. In 2007, she and several colleagues formed the Infection Control Nurses Chapter – Kenya (ICNC-K). “Our vision is to be a leading advocate for adoption of infection control practices in all Kenyan healthcare settings,” said Ngugi, who chairs the group.

Despite monumental challenges posed by the country’s healthcare environment – lack of resources and fragmented IPC activities, among others – the ICNC-K has had remarkable impact on patient care and professional development in Kenya and neighboring countries.

The group developed and launched a national infection control policy that has been adopted by all Kenyan hospitals. They’ve held hand hygiene campaigns in schools, refugee camps, and other community settings. Last year, 185 participants from hospitals across Kenya attended the ICNC-K Annual Scientific Conference.

The group’s goals for 2014 include ensuring every Kenyan county has an infection prevention representative and developing a national IPC curriculum. “The challenges in healthcare epidemiology are global,” said Ngugi. “We have to work together to solve them.”