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WHO Reminds Us Fight Against Antibiotic Resistance is ‘In Our Hands’

World Hand Hygiene Day 2017

Antibiotic resistant superbugs are a global health threat the world can’t sit on.

That’s the powerful and alarming message the World Health Organization stressed in this year’s observance of World Hand Hygiene Day on Saturday, May 5. With super viruses, able to repel antibiotics on the rise, the WHO is challenging everyone to join the fight with this year’s vital theme:

“Fight Antibiotic Resistance – It’s in Your Hands.”

The WHO’s global call to action is designed to educate people on the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance and the essentialness of strong hand hygiene in combating this fast-growing worldwide health epidemic, especially in healthcare settings. As the United States Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC) notes, “sustained national improvement in hand hygiene compliance remains elusive.”

“Hand hygiene is at the core of an effective infection program targeting antibiotic resistance,” said Dr. Sally Roberts, clinical lead for the WHO’s infection prevention and control program. “Good hand hygiene is integral to building strong, resilient health systems for whatever situation arises.”

Antibiotic resistance is growing like firestorms across the globe in hospitals and healthcare centers. The WHO reports one out of every 10 patients get an infection while receiving care, and up to 32 percent of patients receiving surgical care get a post-operative infection. Of those infections, a scary 51 percent are resistant to antibiotics. The WHO’s 2017 World Hand Hygiene Day campaign centers on calling policymakers to stop antibiotic resistance spread by making infection prevention and hand hygiene a national policy priority.

“Health care-associated infections are one of the most frequent adverse events in health care delivery and are a major public health problem that affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide,” says Dr Mahmoud Fikri, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

The WHO’s antibiotic resistance awareness campaign targets three especially important and influential groups who hold the ability to help contain this growing global health threat.

Health care workers: “Clean your hands at the right times and stop the spread of antibiotic resistance.”

Chief executives: “Lead a year-round prevention and control program to protect your patients from resistant infections.”

Policy makers: “Stop antibiotic resistance spread by making infection prevention and hand hygiene a national policy priority.”

But the WHO stresses antibiotic resistance prevention begins with each of us. The most powerful and proven weapon against antibiotic resistance is each of us practicing smart daily hand hygiene with regular handwashing. And as the CDC stresses, alcohol-based hand sanitizer “kills most of the bad germs that make you sick and is the preferred way to clean your hands in healthcare settings.”

In healthcare settings alone, the WHO estimates adequate hand hygiene has the potential to save eight million lives each year.

“Health care-associated infections cause harm and suffering that are easily avoided,” Fikri said. “They also result in additional financial burden and sometimes even long-term disabilities or death.

“I urge all health care workers to ensure adequate hand hygiene and all health care facilities to join in the “SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands” campaign and commit to improving hand hygiene practices to help save more lives.”

For the power to stop antibiotic-resistant virus transmission and save lives is in our hands.

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