5 May is annual World Hand Hygiene Day. The 2021 campaign slogan is “Seconds save lives – clean your hands” and the World Health Organisation (WHO) is calling on everyone, but especially health care workers and facilities, to ensure effective hand hygiene.
Scientific evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that hand hygiene is the single most effective action we can take to stop the spread of infection. COVID-19 has shown just how important good hand hygiene practices are in helping to reduce the risk of transmission. In fact, appropriate hand hygiene can prevent up to 50% of avoidable infections acquired during health care delivery, including those affecting the healthcare workers themselves.
WHO studies show that infection acquired during health care delivery is a major global health problem, but patients in low- and middle-income countries are twice as likely to experience this as patients in high-income countries. Despite its simplicity, hand hygiene is still poorly practiced in many health care facilities across the world:
- 1 in 4 health care facilities do not have basic water services, which means that 1.8 billion people currently lack basic water services at their health care facility, while 712 million have no running water at their health care facility.
- 1 in 3 facilities lack hand hygiene facilities at the point of care.
- Compliance with hand hygiene best practices is only around 9% during care of critically ill patients in low-income countries.
- Levels of hand hygiene compliance for high-income countries rarely exceed 70%, calling for additional efforts to improve practices all over the world.
Here in the UK, although we might have got used to washing our hands more frequently over the last year, it is just as important to remember that drying your hands after you have washed them is just as vital, as wet and moist hands are more easily recontaminated. For more information on how to practice good hand hygiene, read our previous blog here
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