WHO World Hand Hygiene Day 2017

Raising Awareness for the Importance of Hand Hygiene

Megan DiGiorgio


By Megan J. DiGiorgio, MSN, RN, CIC, FAPIC

Clinical Specialist, GOJO Industries

Every year on May 5th, we come together on World Hand Hygiene Day to raise awareness for the critical role hand hygiene plays in infection prevention. 

This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) is focusing on ways to help prevent a problem that affects more than 30 million patients every year worldwide, and affects more than 1.5 million people and results in more than 250,000 deaths each year in the United States alone. This problem is sepsis – a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection that can cause damage to multiple organ systems. Anyone can develop sepsis, and when it happens, it’s a race against the clock to start treatment to improve the chances of survival. 

Sepsis awareness is key, but we can also help prevent infections that can lead to sepsis through the practice of good hand hygiene. Hand hygiene – using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or washing with soap and water when hands are visibly soiled – is one of the most important measures for preventing the spread of pathogens in healthcare facilities. Those pathogens can cause infection, and any infection can lead to sepsis. 

I encourage you to visit the WHO website  and learn more about sepsis prevention. There you will find resources you can use to promote hand hygiene awareness in your healthcare facility as well as additional information about other WHO efforts to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of sepsis. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a variety of hand hygiene education materials through its Clean Hands Count Campaign

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