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Fight antibiotic resistance is focus of World Hand Hygiene Day

‘Fight antibiotic resistance – it’s in your hands’ is the theme of this year’s World Hand Hygiene Day on 5 May. The day is coordinated by the World Health Organization.

The theme of the day aligns with the aim of the Health Quality & Safety Commission's national hand hygiene programme, which is to reduce healthcare associated infections and prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance microorganisms within health settings.

‘Hand hygiene is at the core of an effective infection prevention programme targeting antibiotic resistance,’ says Dr Sally Roberts, clinical lead for the Commission’s infection prevention and control programme. ‘Good hand hygiene is integral to building strong, resilient health systems for whatever situation arises.’

This year, the World Health Organization has issued specific calls to action to different members of health services:

  • Health care workers: ‘Clean your hands at the right times and stop the spread of antibiotic resistance.’
  • Chief executives: ‘Lead a year-round infection prevention and control programme to protect your patients from resistant infections.’
  • Policy makers: ‘Stop antibiotic resistance spread by making infection prevention and hand hygiene a national policy priority.’

World Hand Hygiene Day also provides an opportunity for health care workers to celebrate hand hygiene achievements to date.

The latest Hand Hygiene New Zealand (HHNZ) audit report for July–October 2016 shows compliance among many health care worker categories continues to climb.

‘Awareness of the importance of hand hygiene is higher, and engagement with improving hand hygiene compliance continues to grow,’ says Dr Roberts.

Hand hygiene compliance by health care workers in New Zealand public hospitals has improved significantly since the HHNZ programme launched in 2008. Nationally, the compliance rate is 83 percent, up from 62 percent in 2012.

More information about World Hand Hygiene Day can be found on the World Health Organization website.