SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands 5 May 2019

SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands 5 May 2019

Clean care for all – it’s in your hands

WHO calls on everyone to be inspired by the global movement to achieve universal health coverage (UHC), i.e. achieving better health and well-being for all people at all ages, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all. Infection Prevention and Control, including hand hygiene, is critical to achieve UHC as it is a practical and evidence-based approach with demonstrated impact on quality of care and patient safety across all levels of the health system.

Good hand
hygiene by health workers protects patients from drug resistant infections

Healthcare-associated
infections usually occur when germs are transferred by health-care providers’
hands touching the patient. Of every 100 hospitalized patients, at least 7 in
high-income and 10 in low-/middle-income countries will acquire a
healthcare-associated infection. Among critically ill and vulnerable patients
in intensive care units, that figure rises to around 30 per 100 . Every year,
hundreds of millions of patients around the world are affected by
healthcare-associated infections, a high proportion of which is caused by germs
that are resistant to antimicrobial drugs.

When
patients are infected with germs that do not respond well to antibiotics, they
generally have worse clinical outcomes, cost more to treat and are more likely
to die than other patients.

Antimicrobial resistance and good hand hygiene

Earlier in 2014, WHO issued a major global report on antimicrobial resistance documenting high rates of resistance in bacteria that cause common infections (e.g. urinary tract infection, surgical site infections, pneumonia and bloodstream infections) in all regions of the world.

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The initial
results of the global survey confirm that resistance is very frequent in
bacteria isolated in health-care facilities; for instance, for a devastating
bug called Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), it is as high as
44%, 40% and 38% on average in Latin America, West African countries, and
Europe respectively.

“There is
clear scientific evidence that good hand hygiene by health workers reduces
healthcare-associated infections caused by resistant germs, in particular by
MRSA,” says Professor Benedetta Allegranzi, technical lead of the WHO Clean
Care is Safer Care programme and of the activities planned for Hand Hygiene
Day.

5 key moments

Health
workers can play a vital role to protect patients from infections that are
difficult to treat by performing hand hygiene at 5 key moments, preferably by
using an alcohol-based rub or by hand washing with soap and water if hands are
visibly dirty.

The ‘5 Moments’ for hand hygiene are:

before
touching a patient.

before clean
and aseptic procedures (e.g. Inserting devices such as catheters).

after
contact with body fluids.

after
touching a patient.

after
touching patient surroundings.

The use of alcohol-based hand rub products is a key factor to achieve improvement because they can be promptly used at the point of care when hand hygiene is needed to ensure patient safety and they have higher antimicrobial effect than soap and water.

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