Today, 5 May 2009, WHO is formally launching its global initiative SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands as part of its First Global Patient Safety Challenge: "Clean Care is Safer Care". (1)
The aim of SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands is to continue to raise worldwide awareness about the importance of hand hygiene to prevent healthcare-associated infections and to sustain action to the point of patient care. More than 4,500 health-care facilities from 114 countries and territories have registered with the initiative. A recent survey performed by ECDC showed that about half of EU Member States and EEA/EFTA countries have, have had or are planning national campaigns on hand hygiene between 2000 and 2009, although the level of implementation of these campaigns varied greatly. (2)
Each year, over four million European patients develop a healthcare-associated infection and about 37,000 die as the direct consequence of this infection. (3) Hand hygiene is the single most effective way to prevent cross-transmission of microorganisms and protect patients from healthcare-associated infections. It is also an essential part of general measures to prevent spread of respiratory viruses such as influenza.
Raising awareness about hand hygiene among healthcare workers, as well as patients and the general public, is paramount. ECDC supports and joins WHO on this important global initiative.
(1) Kilpatrick C, Allegranzi B, Pittet D. The global impact of hand hygiene campaigning. Euro Surveill. 2009;14(17):pii=19191
(2) Magiorakos AP, Suetens C, Boyd L, Costa C, Cunney R, Drouvot V, et al. National hand hygiene campaigns in Europe, 2000-2009. Euro Surveill. 2009;14(17):pii=19190
(3) Annual Epidemiological Report on Communicable Diseases in Europe 2008. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Stockholm, 2008