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World Hand Hygiene Day

World Hand Hygiene Day: Fight Antibiotic Resistance - It's in Your Hands

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  • World Hand Hygiene Day emphasizes the importance of hand washing to fight antibiotic resistance
  • ‘Fight Antibiotic Resistance - It's in your Hands' is the theme for World Hand Hygiene Day
  • Hand hygiene is important to prevent the spread of infection-causing germs in healthcare facilities

World Hand Hygiene Day is an annual event marked on 5th May. The day observed by the World Health Organization (WHO), focuses on the importance of hand hygiene in healthcare. The theme for this year's World Hand Hygiene Day is 'Fight Antibiotic Resistance - It's in your Hands.' The theme emphasizes the importance of washing hands to prevent infection and antibiotic resistance.

Importance of Hand Hygiene

Most of the infections and diseases are caused by germs that spread by people's actions. One simple, yet effective way to prevent the spread of infection is by maintaining good hand hygiene. A simple change in behavior such as washing hands regularly can reduce the spread of infections and save the lives of millions.


The WHO calls on countries and healthcare facilities to strengthen infection prevention and control programs based on the WHO guidelines. One of the core components of infection prevention and control is hand hygiene, which plays an important role in combating antimicrobial resistance.

Hand Hygiene and Antibiotic Resistance

In the recent years, the global threat of antibiotic resistance has intensified. Antibiotic resistance occurs when a microorganism is no longer destroyed or stopped by antibiotic medications. Microbes have become resistant to almost all antibiotics in use. Thus, a simple act of keeping the hands germ-free can prevent the spread of resistant microbes that can be present on or in patients or the environment.

Hand Hygiene in Healthcare

Studies have shown that healthcare professionals clean their hands less than half of the times they should. Unclean hands increase the risk of healthcare-associated infections that affect one in 25 hospital patients. One in ten patients gets an infection while receiving treatment. Thirty-two percent of patients receiving surgical care suffer from post-operative infection.

"Healthcare-associated infections are one of the most frequent adverse events in healthcare delivery. It is a major public health problem that affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide," said Dr Mahmoud Fikri, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

Dr Fikri added, "Healthcare-associated infections cause harm that can be easily avoided. They also result in additional financial burden and sometimes even long-term disabilities or death. I urge all healthcare workers to ensure adequate hand hygiene and all healthcare facilities to commit to improving hand hygiene practices to help save more lives."

Facts on Healthcare-Associated Infections
  • In high-income countries, healthcare-associated infections can affect at least seven out of every 100 hospitalized patients.
  • In low and middle-income countries, healthcare-associated infections can affect 10 in every 100 hospitalized patients.
  • In Intensive Care Unit, 30 out of 100 patients suffer from healthcare-associated infections.
5 Key Factors for Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Facilities
  • Before touching a patient
  • Before cleaning and aseptic procedures such as inserting catheters
  • After contact with body fluids
  • After touching a patient
  • After touching patient surroundings
Healthcare workers can prevent infections by using an alcohol-based rub or by hand washing with soap and water. Studies have demonstrated that hand washing eradicates the carriage of MRSA, which occurs on the hands of healthcare providers working in the ICU. Adherence to hand hygiene has significantly reduced the rates of acquisition of microbes on hands and has reduced the rates of healthcare-associated infections.

Adequate hand hygiene can save eight million lives every year in hospitals alone. Remember, clean hands can make the healthcare facilities a safer place to receive and provide care.

  1. SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands 5 May 2017 - (http://www.who.int/infection-prevention/campaigns/clean-hands/2017/en/)
  2. Clean Hands Count for Safe Healthcare - (https://www.cdc.gov/features/handhygiene/)
  3. Good hand hygiene by health workers protects patients from drug resistant infections - (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2014/hand-hygiene/en/)
Source: Medindia

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