Hand hygiene against antimicrobial resistance: So simple – so good.

This year’s World Hand Hygiene Day on 5 May focusses on combating antimicrobial resistance.

The global increase in the number of nosocomial infection with multidrug-resistant microorganisms is alarming. Even though we already have the key to fight these infections in our hands: according to the World Health Organization (WHO), hand hygiene is the core element of a successful strategy against multidrug-resistant pathogens. This year’s World Hand Hygiene Day on 5 May therefore focusses on combating antimicrobial resistance.

Throughout the world, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to patient safety. Every year, in Europe, 25 000 people die because their infections cannot be treated adequately; in the US, this figure is 23 000. With its “Prevention First” approach, WHO leaves no doubt that every infection which is prevented eliminates the need for the treatment with drugs. So, if bacterial infections are prevented, the use of antibiotics is also reduced. Infections are most effectively prevented by good hand hygiene, which reliably inhibits the spread of multidrug-resistant microorganisms.

Compliance with hand hygiene protocols varies greatly: the compliance in German healthcare facilities, for instance, is between 41 and 55 per cent according to the Robert Koch-Institute (RKI); 30 per cent according to WHO. In hand hygiene, there is hence great need to catch up. A potential that WHO now wants to mobilise against antimicrobial resistance with its annual World Hand Hygiene Day on 5 May.

“Fight antibiotic resistance – it’s in your hands”

RF picture of multi-drug-resistant staphylococcus aureus

177 countries and 20 000 facilities take part in the annual campaign to raise the awareness of hand hygiene. This year, the tagline is “Fight antibiotic resistance”. And, for the first time, WHO invites all essential healthcare parties involved to join in. Adapted to their respective scope, infection control practitioners, nursing staff, chief executive officers, administrators and policy makers get a clear mandate via Twitter, videos, posters, banners and information material.

This year’s call to action of WHO are:

  • Infection control practitioners: “Implement WHO’s core components for infection prevention, including hand hygiene, to combat antibiotic resistance.”
  • Healthcare workers: “Clean your hands at the right times and stop the spread of antibiotic resistance.”
  • Hospital Chief Executive Officers and Administrators: “Lead a year-round infection prevention and control programme to protect your patients from resistant infections."
  • Policy makers: “Stop antibiotic resistance spread by making infection prevention and hand hygiene a national policy priority.”

WHO’s key messages include that hand hygiene plays a decisive role in preventing all infections and with that also those due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. For WHO, it has long been proven that hand hygiene can significantly reduce infection rates. Every US dollar that hospitals invest in hand hygiene earns the 24-fold amount – because the high costs due to nosocomial infections are avoided. Examples demonstrate that a clinic that increases its hand hygiene budget by one per cent can save 40 000 US dollars every year.

Multimodal programmes as gold standard

In face of the growing threat emanating from multidrug-resistant pathogens, hand hygiene even more becomes a core element of infection control. Internationally, alcohol-based hand rubs are considered the state of the art in hand hygiene. WHO even included alcohol-based hand disinfectants in its Model List of Essential Medicines.

The campaign for 5 May is the annual highlight of the efforts to prevent infection and to impede the spread of antimicrobial resistance by improving hand hygiene behaviour. However, WHO’s objectives go far beyond 5 May: infection must be prevented by hand hygiene “for all patients all the time”. For WHO, the gold standard to achieve this goal is the implementation of multimodal hand hygiene programmes.

Being market leader in the field of hand hygiene in many countries around the globe, HARTMANN supports the objectives of WHO with many activities and a sustainable multimodal programme to promote hand hygiene.

HARTMAN tools for 5th of May

With stickers, posters, e-learning and infotainment HARTMANN provides clinics with the tools needed to improve hand hygiene compliance – also beyond 5th of May.

You want to join in?
Contact your HARTMANN sales representative

Hand Hygiene Evolution Concept

Woman with E-Learning

The Hand Hygiene Evolution Concept of HARTMANN and its BODE SCIENCE CENTER comprises the core elements of WHO’s strategy. The intervention programme combines scientifically based sets of measures with a continuous specialist on-site support. The individual approach, recent technologies and continuous support ensure a sustainable effect on the compliance.

You want to know how to improve your compliance sustainably?
Learn more.

All details on the WHO campaign “Fight antibiotic resistance – it’s in your hands” on 5 May 2017 can be found at http://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/2017/en/