Handwashing is one of the most effective and basic ways to stay healthy and prevent the spread of germs to others. Keeping hands clean can reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16% and prevent millions of deaths every year.
Global Handwashing Day is an annual advocacy day that serves as a reminder that a simple act of handwashing with water and soap is an efficient and affordable way to prevent the spread of many diseases. Thanks to the Global Handwashing Partnership initiative, the first Global Handwashing Day took place on the 15th of October 2008. On this day, more than 120 million children in 70+ countries washed their hands with soap. In the name of this year’s theme, “Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together,” the Global Handwashing Day calls for a coordinated action to increase hand hygiene worldwide.
When it comes to the hospital setting, it has been shown that 1 in 25 patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection on any given day. On top of that, most healthcare providers clean their hands less than half of the time they should. The consequences of improper hygiene lead to prolonged hospital stays and may lead to death in the worst cases.
Additionally, the spread of infectious diseases, in turn, leads to increased use of antibiotics which directly contributes to the public health problem of antibiotic resistance. Inadequate hygiene, sanitation, and poor infection control are the key factors contributing to resistant bacteria in health care facilities.
Can technology help?
Hygiene-specific sensing technology has been created to ensure health care workers perform hand hygiene during WHO’s Five Moments for Hand Hygiene (critical moments of care). In addition to providing a monitoring system based on data, it increases responsibility and a sense of ownership among healthcare workers. The adoption of data-driven technology yields impacts for both staff members and their patients. Multiple studies , have shown a reduction in healthcare-associated infections after implementing a hand hygiene-specific initiative.
By implementing multiple strategies based on good-quality data and supporting initiatives such as Global Handwashing Day, we can all help prevent infections and save lives.