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World Hand Hygiene Day (May 5) gains utmost relevance this year


Good hand hygiene practices are crucial to improve patient safety and is becoming the frontline of defense for healthcare professionals. 

As part of World Hand Hygiene Day, which is celebrated on May 5 each year, the World Health Organisation has stressed on the importance of hand hygiene as a vital infection prevention and control (IPC) measure. It has been proven to improve the quality of patient care and decrease infections acquired during health care, the organisation said. 

This year’s campaign theme – SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands – aligns with the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. ‘The campaign aims to recognie nurses and midwives as front-line heroes who deserve acknowledgment, appreciation and protection, and to highlight their critical role in infection prevention and control,’ WHO said in a statement.

On the occasion, Dr Ahmed al Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said, “Good hand hygiene practices are crucial to improve patient safety and is becoming the frontline of defense for the healthcare team, including nurses and midwives. Now more than ever, the ‘SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands’ campaign is vital – in our region and all around the world – to promote hand hygiene and combat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”

Celebrated every year on May 5, World Hand Hygiene Day mobilises people across the globe to increase adherence to hand hygiene in healthcare facilities, thus protecting health care workers and patients from infections. 

The COVID-19 global pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of sound hand hygiene practices as a first line of IPC. Not only is good hand hygiene essential to defeat COVID-19, but it also helps to limit the risk from other healthcare-associated infections, which constitute a severe burden on health systems and exert a terrible toll of sickness and deaths that could have been avoided. 

On the occasion, Dr Mandhari addressed nurses and midwives, in particular, and the communities that surround them, to ensure that they apply safe hand hygiene practices to protect themselves and their patients.

“They are responsible for making their environment better and safer by asking for the essentials such as running water, soap and alcohol based sanitisers in the health facilities they work in. I am also asking them to be the role models to teach their families and communities the great value of the simple act of proper hand hygiene,” he said.


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