Bringing Global Awareness to the Importance of Hand Hygiene on World Hand Hygiene Day

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Bringing Global Awareness to the Importance of Hand Hygiene on World Hand Hygiene Day

By Jim Arbogast, Ph.D., Hygiene Sciences and Public Health Advancements Vice President, GOJO Industries
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.@GOJOindustries raise awareness for World Hand Hygiene Day read more: #handhygiene

Multimedia from this Release

Thursday, May 4, 2017 - 4:00pm

May 5, 2017, marks the day that hospitals around the globe join the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to raise awareness for the importance of hand hygiene.

The WHO SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands campaign was launched in 2009 as a major global effort to improve hand hygiene in healthcare. The WHO campaign provides the venue and the opportunity to raise awareness and educate on the importance of hand hygiene and the work being done to reduce healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) to improve the safety of healthcare workers and patients.

Improved hand hygiene is a simple but powerful tool to improve patient health and help stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant germs. The WHO 2017 campaign, “Fight antibiotic resistance – it’s in your hands,” focuses on the fight against antibiotic resistance in the context of hand hygiene and infection prevention programs, which help to reduce the need for antibiotics.

What is Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance, which occurs when bacteria change in a way that reduces the effectiveness of antibiotics, is a top-of-mind issue for many. Both the CDC and the WHO have deemed antibiotic resistance as one of the most pressing public health threats for society today. For example, in the United States alone, antibiotic resistance causes more than 23,000 deaths each year and more than two million illnesses.[1]So, how can we prevent its spread?

Preventing its Spread

According to the CDC, the use of antibiotics, typically drugs ingested orally, is the single most important factor that causes antibiotic resistance, and up to one-half of antibiotic use in humans is either unnecessary or inappropriate. To prevent this threat to public health, it is important to take antibiotics only when needed. Also, antibiotics can only treat illnesses that are caused by bacteria (not viruses). 

One of the best infection prevention approaches is hand hygiene – it’s proven, affordable, relatively simple and something we can all do to reduce the spread of illness-causing germs. Staying healthy and preventing infections from happening is very effective and the most important way to reduce the use of antibiotics. This is why practicing good hand hygiene – handwashing with soap and water and hand sanitizing with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol at key moments – is so critical to overcoming the global public health threat of antibiotic resistance.

Resources Available

The WHO SAVE LIVES: Clean Hands Campaign offers hospitals expertise and tools to help increase hand hygiene compliance through its Plan, Act, Communicate message.

1. Plan

  • Commit to WHO’s campaign theme
  • Visit WHO May 5, 2017 website regularly for ongoing updates and new downloads. Website materials include a short advocacy slide set, a monthly newsletter, an engagement/activity tool for infection preventionists and new advocacy and instructional videos

2. Act

  • Sign up to the ‘SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands’ campaign if you have not already done so, and ask others to join the campaign as well. More information here:
  • Get team members involved
  • Register for the May 5th telecast (08:30 EST)

3. Communicate

  • Follow the World Health Organization on Twitter (@WHO), Facebook, Instagram, and share social media posts relating to May 5th activities with your followers and friends.
  • Share photos on social media using the #handhygiene and #antibiotic resistance – remember to join the conversation on May 5th
  • Download the NEW poster pdfs from this WHO page and choose from the selection of GOJO educational items below to raise awareness

Additional resources are available through the CDC as well. The CDC Clean Hands Count Campaign is a national educational campaign to improve hand hygiene compliance in healthcare settings to reduce the number of HAIs.  The campaign features a variety of communications for healthcare workers, patients, and family members, including infographics, posters, factsheets and brochures. 

To learn more about the Clean Hands Count Campaign, visit

Together, this May 5, let’s raise awareness and help educate others about the growing problem of the overuse of antibiotics continues to have on infection prevention through good hand hygiene all year long! 

1. CDC Threat Report: