World Hand Hygiene Day

Sangita Thangjam
World Hand Hygiene Day is a global campaign commemorated on 5th May every year . The day has been declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 2009 and encourages patients and their family members to join health workers in their efforts to practice good hand hygiene This campaign was introduced to make people aware of the importance of maintaining hand hygiene. The aim is to maintain global promotion, visibility and sustainability of hand hygiene in health care and to ‘bring people together’ in support of hand hygiene improvement around the world. According to WHO, every year, hundreds of millions of patients around the world are affected by health care-associated infections. More than half of these infections could be prevented by caregivers properly cleaning their hands at key moments in patient care. When people seek health care, they are hoping to get better. Too often, however, they end up getting a new, avoidable infection – which is often resistant to antimicrobials and can sometimes even be fatal. Many germs that can make people sick are spread when we don’t wash our hands with soap and clean, running water. That is why handwashing is so important, especially at key times.  There are an estimated 1500 bacteria on just 1cm of our hands. Hand washing can prevent 1 in 5 respiratory infections and 1 in 3 diarrhoea related sicknesses. Researchers estimate that if everyone routinely washed their hands, a million deaths a year could be prevented. Hand hygiene is recognized globally as the most effective measure a health care worker can take to prevent the spread of healthcare-associated infections. WHO survey acknowledged that 35% of healthcare facilities did not have soap and water for hand washing. WHO found that on average 61% of healthcare workers, in some facilities upto 90% do not adhere to best hand washing practices, even when supplies are available. When a health facility’s “quality and safety climate or culture” values hand hygiene and infection prevention and control (IPC), this results in both patients and health workers feeling protected and cared for.
That is why the World Hand Hygiene Day (WHHD) theme for 2022 is a ”health care quality and safety climate or culture” that values hand hygiene and IPC, and the slogan is ”Unite for safety: clean your hands”.
WHO calls on health care workers and facilities to achieve effective hand hygiene action at the point of care and calls on HCWs to lead by being role models performing HH appropriately and also encouraging others to clean their hands. The point of care refers to the place where three elements come together: the patient, the health care worker, and care or treatment involving contact with the patient or their surroundings. To be effective and prevent transmission of infectious microorganisms during health care delivery, hand hygiene should be performed when it is needed at 5 specific moments and in the most effective way by using the right technique  at the point of care.
It is our duty and responsibility to unite, talk and work together on hand hygiene for high quality safe care everywhere on this advocacy day with the intention of improving awareness of all.
The writer is Consultant Microbiologist/ Infection Control Officer , Shija Hospitals & Research Institute