World Hand Hygiene Day: Clean Care for All - It''s in Your Hands

World Hand Hygiene Day: Clean Care for All - It's in Your Hands

by Ishwarya Thyagarajan on May 4 2019 6:25 PM
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  • World Hand Hygiene Day is observed on 5th May every year to highlight the importance of hand hygiene in infection prevention and control
  • This year 2019 marks the 11th year of the WHO Save Lives: Clean Your Hands campaign
  • The theme for 2019 is ‘Clean Care for all – it’s in your hands’
World Hand Hygiene Day is observed annually on 5th May by the World Health Organization (WHO) and highlights the importance of hand hygiene in healthcare. The awareness day also aims at bringing together people to support effective hand hygiene practices globally to achieve better health and wellbeing.
The theme for this year's World Hand Hygiene Day is ‘Clean Care for all – it’s in your hands.’ The theme emphasizes the importance of good hand hygiene in infection prevention and control which is an essential component in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).


Universal Health Coverage and Hand Hygiene

WHO urges everyone to be encouraged by the global movement to achieve universal health coverage (UHC), including access to quality healthcare; access to safe, affordable and effective medicines and vaccines for all.

Quality of care and patient safety across all levels of the health system should be given utmost importance, as they are the core components of UHC. Infection prevention and control (IPC) including hand hygiene has been found to impact these components significantly. Therefore, IPC has been established as a practical and evidence-based approach in the UHC context.


World Hand Hygiene Day 2019 – Calls to Action

This year the WHO is calling out to the many crucial stakeholders, urging them to act and be a part of the global movement to achieve UHC. 
  • Health workers: 'Champion clean care – it’s in your hands’
  • IPC leaders: ‘Monitor infection prevention and control standards – take action and improve practices’
  • Health facility leaders: ‘Is your facility up to WHO infection control and hand hygiene standards? Take part in the WHO survey 2019 and take action!’
  • Ministries of health: ‘Does your country meet infection prevention and control standards? Monitor and act to achieve quality universal health coverage’
  • Patient advocacy groups: ‘Ask for clean care – it’s your right’
WHO has also designed posters for each of these stakeholders to use in their campaigns. Social media kits have been designed, and #HandHygiene, #InfectionPrevention, #HealthForAll are the hash tags designated this year. A Solidarity Chain movement has also been planned as part of the campaign.


My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene Approach

Healthcare workers have been found to clean their hands less than half of the times they should be. This increases the risk of healthcare-associated infections and one in ten patients get infected while getting treated. A significant number of patients also suffer from post-operative infection.

The WHO prescribes that 5 moments of hand hygiene must be adopted by all healthcare workers who come in contact with the patients to reduce the spread of infections. These 5 instances are applicable to almost all settings beyond just hospitals and have to be adapted appropriately. This fundamental approach has been at the crux of the WHO campaigns every year.

The approach urges healthcare workers to clean their hands:
  • Before touching a patient
  • Before clean/aseptic procedures
  • After body fluid exposure/risk
  • After touching a patient
  • After touching patient surroundings
Posters illustrating these moments at different settings like vaccination campaigns, ambulation centres, pediatric consultation are available to emphasize the message.

Global Survey 2019

The WHO has designed a global survey on infection prevention and control, and hand hygiene which is open for participation from 16th January to 16th July 2019. All the countries and healthcare facilities are urged to participate in the survey which aims to acts as a facility-level assessment tool. The survey is comprised of two components: IPC Assessment Framework (IPCAF) and Hand Hygiene Self-assessment Framework (HHSAF).

In order to support patient safety, improve quality of health care, prepare for outbreak response, and to prevent and control antimicrobial resistance, the survey intends to support local assessments of IPC and hand hygiene activities using the prescribed tools and understand the level of progress of current IPC and hand hygiene activities globally and recommend actions for the future.

WHO is urging all existing healthcare facility members to participate and also encourage others to be a part of the campaign in order to act now. Dr. Edward Kelly, Director – Service Delivery and Safety, WHO remarked, “Healthcare-associated Infection is such a big problem, we need to focus the world on something that is truly actionable and can save many, many lives. This action is hand hygiene, a flagship element of WHO’s patient safety work.”
Poor hand hygiene puts millions of lives at a higher risk of developing a wide range of hospital-related infections. Therefore, healthcare workers should follow a proper hand washing procedure while moving from dirtier to cleaner patient care tasks. It is also necessary to educate people on how washing hands regularly contributes to overall health and well-being. So, let us all join together by following proper hand washing procedure to live a safe and healthy life.

  1. WHO – Infection prevention and control  - (


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