Since 2008, Global Handwashing Day has been celebrated annually on 15 October to promote handwashing as an easy, effective and affordable way to prevent disease and save lives.
This year’s theme is “Unite for Universal Hand Hygiene”.
When handwashing is practised at key moments, such as the 5 Moments of Hand Hygiene, before & after using the toilet, before eating, and before & after various tasks that you need to perform, it can dramatically reduce the risk of diarrhoea (such as the paediatric surge season from November to May) and pneumonia, which can cause serious illness and death. Handwashing also helps prevent the spread of many other infections and viruses including influenza and Covid-19. Appropriate handwashing prevents up to 50% of avoidable infections quired during health care delivery, including those affecting the HCW.
COVID-19 continues to show the world what we’ve always known—infection preventionists (IPs) play a crucial role in keeping our neighborhoods safe and healthy. In addition to fighting a global pandemic, the infection prevention and control community is protecting us from surges in healthcare-associated infections, measles outbreaks, flu season, and so many other day-to-day infectious battles.
The scientific evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that appropriate handwashing is the single most effective action to stop the spread of infection, while integrated with other critical measures. Everything we touch on a daily basis is contaminated and 80% of germs are spread by hand contact.
The following WHO statistics are quite alarming :
- Globally, out of every 100 patients, 7 in developed and 15 in developing countries will acquire at least one HAI in acute care hospitals
- HAIs in adult intensive care units and neonatal infection rates are 2–3 and 3–20 times higher, respectively, in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries
- 8.9 million HAIs occur every year in acute and long-term care facilities in the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA)
- 1 million of the 4.1 million maternal and neonatal deaths annually worldwide may be related to unhygienic birthing practices, including lack of hand hygiene
Despite its simplicity, handwashing is still poorly practiced in many health care facilities. According to statistics by the American Medical Association in 2021, the handwashing compliance remained low, averaging 50% across hospitals internationally. This is most concerning. We can see similar trends at health care facilities in South Africa where the usage of hand hygiene products is extremely low. As the number of new Covid-19 cases and morbidity & mortality remains low, our hand hygiene habits have also dwindled over recent months.
We all have a core responsibility to encourage people to practice effective handwashing. Make that small difference in someone’s life, it may save a precious life.
We encourage you to share the following links with your colleagues and patients :
- Soap Wash and Alcohol Based Hand Rub (ABHR) :
Did you take the necessary steps to prevent the risk of infection at your facility? Did you choose the product with the correct specification and highest accreditation? If not, the spread of a Healthcare Associated Infection (HAI) at your facility could have severe financial and legal implications.
Do you have any hand hygiene related campaign for the upcoming hand washing day