World Hand Hygiene Day (5 May 2022)- Unite for Safety: clean your hands

May 5 is celebrated as World Hand Hygiene Day. This year’s slogan is ‘Unite for Safety: clean your hands’.

Background Information:

As part of a major global effort to improve hand hygiene in health care, led by WHO to support health-care workers, the SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands annual global campaign was launched in 2009 and was a natural extension of the WHO First Global Patient Safety Challenge: Clean Care is Safer Care work which is now WHO IPC global unit.

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.

WHO SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands annual initiative is part of a major global effort led by the World Health Organization (WHO) to support health-care workers to improve hand hygiene in health care and thus support the prevention of often life threatening Hospital Acquired Infection.

Key Messages:

Infection prevention and control (IPC), which includes hand hygiene, is fundamental to safe and effective health care systems. Hand hygiene is relevant to all health workers, patients and their families at every single health care encounter. It contributes to quality universal health coverage, meeting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.8 and also strongly supports the water, sanitation, hygiene and health (WASH) and global antimicrobial resistance (AMR) agendas.

HAIs, including surgical site infections (SSIs) and device (line) associated infections, occur worldwide, affecting hundreds of millions of patients annually. The rate of transmission in the health care setting has led to increases in avoidable infections, which can lead to death if not treated.

Around 5 million infections occur annually in European hospitals, representing an extra 25 million days in hospital and an economic burden of €13–24 billion.

Approximately 70% of health care workers do not routinely practice hand hygiene, with health workers reporting misunderstandings about the relevance and importance of hand hygiene in everyday clinical practice.

Studies have shown that practicing routine hand hygiene achieves a reduction in health
care-associated infections (HAIs).

However, sub-optimal infection prevention precipitates the spread of germs, including those resistant to antibiotics.

Evidence suggests that as little as 50% of surgical teams comply with hand hygiene best practice throughout a surgical patient’s hospital stay.

SSIs are the most frequent type of infection in low-and middle-income countries, with a pooled incidence of 11.8%, compared to 1.2 – 5.2% in developed countries.

The My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene approach defines the key moments when health-care workers should perform hand hygiene.

This evidence-based, field-tested, user-centred approach is designed to be easy to learn, logical and applicable in a wide range of settings.

This approach recommends health-care workers to clean their hands

  • before touching a patient,
  • before clean/aseptic procedures,
  • after body fluid exposure/risk,
  • after touching a patient, and
  • after touching patient surroundings.

Useful Links:

Link to WHO poster on How to Handrub:

Link to WHO poster on How to Handwash:

Link to WHO poster on 5 moments for Hand Hygiene:

Link to WHO document on clean hands in the context of COVID-19:

Link to hand hygiene video by NEJM (English):


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