It’s In Your Hands - preventing sepsis in healthcare by promoting hand hygiene

May 2, 2018

May 5th – World Hand Hygiene Day

This week the WHO’s SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands campaign takes place globally.

The event hopes to spread awareness among healthcare workers of how to prevent infectious diseases – including sepsis – by carrying out rigorous hand hygiene routines. 

Shockingly, 70% of the world’s health care workers and 50% of surgical teams do not routinely practice hand hygiene, say the WHO.

This year’s slogan is “It’s in your hands - prevent sepsis in healthcare” and a raft of nurses and other healthcare workers have committed to organising displays, running hand hygiene classes and ensuring current practice meets the best standards possible.

Launched in 2005, the WHO’s Clean Care is Safer Care programme is aimed at reducing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) worldwide and the Save Lives: Clean Your Hands campaign is part of their ongoing commitment to reduce needless deaths. 

The WHO website states: “SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands was deemed a natural next phase of the Clean Care is Safer Care programme, moving the call to action from a country pledge of commitment to the point of patient care. The central core of SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands is that all health-care workers should clean their hands at the right time and in the right way.

“SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands incorporates a global annual day to focus on the importance of improving hand hygiene in health care with WHO providing support for these efforts. hand hygiene model

“A suite of hand hygiene improvement tools and materials have been created from a base of existing research and evidence and from rigorous testing, as well as working closely with a range of experts in the field. The tools aim to help the translation into practice of a multimodal strategy for improving and sustaining hand hygiene in health care.”

The SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands objectives are: 

1. Aim to make hand hygiene a global priority, viewed as an essential life-saving action in the delivery of safe, quality care. 

2. Make meaningful engagement with all health workers (and others) on hand hygiene and emphasize how their role plays a part in improving patient outcomes. 

3. Inspire infection prevention and hand hygiene advocates in a range of clinical settings to support sustained behaviour change, aligning with the campaign call to action. 

4. Ensure hand hygiene campaign recognition through continuity with a ‘SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands’ activity each year – driving on-going engagement with the use of campaign resources available on WHO webpages.

Dr Edward Kelley, the WHO’s director of service delivery and safety, said, “Health care-associated infection is such a big problem, we need to focus the world on something that is truly actionable and can save many, many lives. This action is hand hygiene, a flagship element of WHO's patient safety work.”

On Twitter, use the hashtag #handhygiene and #sepsis to post your events and team photos. 

For more information on World Hand Hygiene Day, see who.int

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