This Year’s Initiate Focuses On Reducing Hospital Infections
Take a look at your hands. No matter how big or small, they have tremendous power.
For with two hands comes great ability and great responsibility, especially if those hands belong to
doctors and nurses. That’s the message the World Health Organization is sending with the theme of this
year’s World Hand Hygiene Day on Sunday, May 5:
Clean Care For All: It’s In Your Hands.
This year’s World Hand Hygiene Day theme is inspired the global movement to achieve universal health
coverage (UHC), which is achieving a better health and well-being for people of all ages, and greatly
reducing the amount of hospital-associated infections (HAIs) around the planet.
The WHO’s calls to action for this year’s Hand Hygiene Day give challenges to five influential groups of
- Health Workers: “Champions clean care – It’s in your hands.”
- IPC Leaders: “Monitor infection prevention and control standards – take action and improve practices.”
- Health Facility Leaders: “Is your facility up to WHO infection control and hand hygiene standards? Take
part in the WHO survey 2019 and take action.”
- Ministries of Health: “Does your country meet infection prevention and control standards? Monitor and
act to achieve quality universal health coverage.”
- Patient Advocacy Groups: “Ask for clean care – it’s your right.”
The Fight Against Hospital Infections
This year’s Clean Hands Count campaign is focusing on reducing HAIs worldwide by:
- Improving healthcare provider adherence to U.S. Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention hand
- Address the myths and misperceptions about hand hygiene
- Empower patients to play a role in their care by asking or reminding healthcare providers to clean their
There are few more dangerous public health risks in the United States than hospital infections. A 2018
University of Michigan study found hospital infections affect almost two million people in the USA every
year. Of those patients, the WHO reports 80,000 will die, a heartbreaking average of 200 per day. Up to
70 percent of these infections could be prevented if healthcare workers follow the recommended
protocols, including proper hand hygiene.
With the WHO alarmingly reporting less than 40 percent of healthcare workers complying with
recommended hand hygiene guidelines, a lack of strict, regular handwashing by America’s healthcare
professionals has become a national health emergency.
As the WHO puts it bluntly, “the problem is huge.”
It’s time for all healthcare professionals to heed the WHO’s call and remember the health and wellbeing of
their patients are in their hands, which can only adequately care and heal others if they are clean. Dirty
hands are conduits for the spread of infections to patients by the very people entrusted to care for them.
“Hand hygiene contributes significantly to keeping patients safe,” the WHO notes.
For health care professionals, clean hands are essential to truly caring for patients.
“Health care is a sacred mission,” Dr. Avedis Donabedian, an internationally known expert in health care
quality, said. “Doctors and nurses are stewards of something precious. … Ultimately, the secret of quality
is love. You have to love your patient, you have to love your profession. If you have love, then you can
work backward to monitor and improve the system.”
And for healthcare professionals, University of Michigan physician Sanjay Saint writes, “Having love for
their patients is washing their hands before touching patients.”