World Hand Hygiene Day is being observed annually on May 5 since 2009 and it chiefly targets at maintaining global promotion, visibility and sustainability of hand hygiene in health care and to ‘bring people together' in support of hand hygiene improvement around the world.
The campaign for World Hand Hygiene Day 2021, according to WHO is “Achieving Hand Hygiene At The Point Of Care” with the slogan “Seconds save lives – clean your hands!” The campaign depicting ‘point of care’ mainly refers to the place where three elements come together: the patient, the health care worker, and care or treatment involving contact with the patient or their surroundings. To provide utmost care and treatment and prevent transmission of infectious microorganisms during health care delivery, hand hygiene is pivotal and must be performed at 5 specific moments and in the appropriate technique using approved medicated products to ensure effective health care delivery.
It’s been more than a year since we were struck with the pandemic and still hand hygiene remains one of our best defenses against the highly contagious coronavirus, along with other public health measures such as maintaining physical distance, avoiding crowded places, practicing cough etiquette and wearing a mask wherever recommended.
What Is Hand Hygiene?
Hand Hygiene is a general umbrella term that applies to either handwashing, antiseptic handwash, antiseptic hand rub, or surgical hand antisepsis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), maintaining hand hygiene through the above-mentioned terms signify:
Handwashing referring to washing hands with plain (i.e., non-antimicrobial) soap and water.
Hand antisepsis mainly implying to washing the hands with either antiseptic handwash or rubbing the palms with an antiseptic hand rub.
Surgical hand antisepsis meaning washing or rubbing the hands with an antiseptic handwash or antiseptic hand rub prior to performing any operative procedures by surgical personnel to eliminate transient and reduce resident hand flora.
How Hand Hygiene Prevents Covid-19?
The pandemic is still raging amongst us making a fearsome comeback and it is far from over. We must ensure that we keep the basics in mind to maintain safety and uplift health. Promoting hand hygiene at all levels of health care is extremely critical. Hand hygiene, a basic measure, is well accepted to be one of the primary modes of reducing healthcare-associated infections and of enhancing patient safety.
We are already aware that the SARS-CoV2 virus transmits mainly between people through direct, indirect (through contaminated objects or surfaces), or close contact with infected people via mouth and nose secretions. Maintaining hand hygiene by washing hands with soap and running water or rubbing an alcohol-based sanitizer solution is of critical importance. To stop the spread of COVID-19, along with other COVID-appropriate behaviours, the practice of handwashing at regular intervals is a must, after coughing or sneezing, when caring for the sick, after using the toilet, before eating, while preparing food and after handling animals or animal waste. Handwashing or sanitizing the hands after touching common surfaces such as doorknobs or handles, or after one comes back home from visiting a public place will keep ourselves and others around us safe and sound during this pandemic.
What Are The Five Moments Of Hand Hygiene?
According to WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in health care, the five moments for hand hygiene are as follows:
- Before touching a patient
- Before cleaning/aseptic procedures
- After body fluid exposure risk
- After touching a patient
- After touching a patient's surroundings
Who Requires Hand Hygiene?
Hand Hygiene is required for each and every one of us and should be one of our daily basics in these times of uncertainty. But it is mainly necessary for any health-care worker, caregiver or person involved in direct or indirect patient care. The person involved in health care delivery must perform hand hygiene correctly at the right time.
What Is The Importance Of Hand Hygiene?
Thousands of people die every day around the world from infections acquired while receiving health care. Now more than ever people are getting infected due to the highly spreading coronavirus. That being said, hands are the main pathways of germ transmission during health care or simply form a point of contact of germ transmission between an infected and non-infected person. Therefore, maintaining proper hand hygiene is quintessential to avoid the transmission of harmful germs and prevent healthcare-associated infections. Apart from preventing nosocomial infections, hand hygiene also combats gastrointestinal infections like diarrhoea, respiratory diseases that are spread due to viruses like pneumonia, covid-19 etc, and bacterial infections, thus keeping one disease-free.