WHO launches “Save Lives: Clean your hands” campaign to slow COVID-19 spread

May 6, 2020 - 17:32

TEHRAN – The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a campaign, calling upon policymakers to provide the necessary infrastructure to allow people to electively perform hand hygiene in public places in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Annually more than 8 million deaths in low or middle-income countries are attributed to poor quality care and failures in infection prevention measures during health care.

However, infection and antimicrobial resistance in health care are not only a concern in developing countries but are actually a worldwide problem.

Hands play an important role in the COVID-19 virus transmission because contaminated hands are the vehicle transferring the virus to the mouth, nose, or eyes and also from one surface to another by contaminated hands.

Hand hygiene is one of (if not the) most effective action to reduce the spread of the pathogens and prevent infections, including the COVID-19 virus.

Hand hygiene campaign

Since 2009, every year, WHO celebrates the “Save Lives: Clean your Hands” campaign on May 5.

Also, thanks to the strength and effectiveness of this campaign, this year's hand hygiene has been vigorously promoted and implemented as a critical prevention measure in the fight against COVID-19.

Many countries are committed to improving hand hygiene. So far, 142 out of 194 WHO member states have made formal statements pledging their support to the campaign. So far, over 20,000 heath care facilities across 189 countries are actively engaged in improving hand hygiene.

Poor hand hygiene practices are also due to overload and lack of time by clinical teams given the shortage of staff affecting the health systems in both high- and low-/middle- income countries.

This year, WHO’s annual global hand hygiene campaign has a special focus that is the role of nurses and midwives in delivering clean care through hand hygiene and infection prevention and control (IPC) best practices. This theme links to the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife that is celebrated this year. The slogan of the campaign is “Nurses and Midwives: clean care is in your hands”.

About nurses and midwives

Alongside the year of the Nurse and Midwife, the 2020 global hand hygiene campaign recognizes their critical role in IPC and hand hygiene practices.

Given their special proximity to the patient, nurses and midwives are also best placed to advise patients and families on good hand hygiene and infection prevention practices. However, the global shortage of nurses and midwives is a major challenge to infection prevention, because low nurse-to-patient ratio is associated with the spread of pathogens and thus, increased healthcare-associated infection rates and outbreaks.

Universal free public hand hygiene stations

Community members can play a critical role in fighting COVID-19 by adopting frequent hand hygiene as part of their day-to-day practices.

By widely improving hand hygiene practices, countries can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Member states are being encouraged to promptly provide universal access to public hand hygiene stations and highly encouraging their use to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

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