Our whole body parts are important but very commonly we say, your life is in your hands. Ok, maybe a little less than heart and mind, but hands are commonly agreed to be in the top five list. Hands truly can make life and potentially destroy lives as well. Recognizing the literal truth behind these lines, if not metaphoric, WHO celebrates May 5th as World Hand Hygiene Day.
Hands are the most common mode of transferring germs. So this day is a call to raise awareness about hand hygiene for everyone and especially for medical practitioners and caregivers. If they talk about the same thing it will get monotonous and lose the purpose, so each year with a theme they introduce a new dimension of the bigger goal. So this year’s theme is ‘Fight Antibiotic Resistance – It’s in Your Hands’.
Antibiotic resistance is the global ever increasing challenge of the bacteria getting drug resistant. Bacteria evolution is rendering the antibiotics ineffective. Which in turn affects the entire healthcare system and also disrupts normal life, and stretches the cost of health care and puts a strain on the economy as a whole.
Antibiotic resistance can be fought by effective IPC (Infection Prevention & Control). Here’s where the hand cleaning plays a pivotal role. Cleaning the hands thoroughly with water and soap or alcohol-based disinfectant can kill most harmful germs and in effect that stops the transmission of germs from healthcare workers to patients and vice-versa. So like always we are promoting the best practices of cleaning hands to prevent the germs from spreading.
Apropos to accomplish it, WHO focus is:
- Getting all influential or highly ranked people to work on spreading awareness about hand hygiene and make sure they run programs and policies to achieve it
- Getting ensured that core components of IPC defined are being followed and there is the other plan in place for preventing the spread of infection, focusing primarily on hand hygiene
- Prioritizing hand hygiene policies to combat antibiotic resistance.
- It involves IPC leaders, Health Ministers, CEO of hospitals and all others in a position to implement such hand hygiene policies. The others can contribute as well by spreading awareness about it and ensuring that ‘My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene’ are being adhered to
My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene is a program by WHO defining the key points when health care workers should engage in hand wash:
- Before touching a patient
- Before clean/aseptic procedures
- After body fluid exposure/risk
- After touching a patient
- After touching a patient surrounding (sourced from WHO)
These guidelines have taken into account many researches, studies, a huge amount of data sent over from the world. These are proven, and tested methods derived by working in collaboration with many professionals and scientists.
We cannot stop the bacteria from evolving, but by simply including hand hygiene we can surely prevent the bacteria from spreading and in effect curb the HAI (Healthcare Associated Infection).
Robert Pirsig said, “The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands.” And we agree it is definitely in our clean hands.