Good hand hygiene critical to patient care: WHO

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Millions of hospital patients around the world contract communicable diseases from their health care givers who don't wash their hands before and after attending to a patient, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Ahead of the World Hand Hygiene day observed on 5 May, WHO says health care associated infections can be prevented if health care givers and other medical workers properly clean their hands at key moments in patient care.

WHO says out of every 100 hospitalized patients, at least 7 in developed and 10 in developing countries will acquire a health care-associated infection.

Among critically ill and vulnerable patients in intensive care units, that figure rises to around 30 per every 100.

Dr Benedetta Allegranzi from the WHO Patient Safety department says the most common health care-associated infections are urinary tract and surgical site infections, pneumonia and infections of the bloodstream.

"More than half of these infections could be prevented by caregivers practicing good hand hygiene. WHO recommends that health workers use an alcohol-based hand rubs or washing hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty at 5 key moments during patient care. These are before touching a patient, before an aseptic procedure, after contact with body fluids, after touching a patient, after touching patient surroundings."

WHO says more than 9 million health workers in 168 countries have registered their commitment to good hand hygiene as part of the organization's global campaign: "SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands".

The campaign has been running since 2009.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio Geneva.

Duration 1.48


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