Health Desk – 06 May,2021: WHO’s latest global survey on implementation of national infection prevention and control programmes highlights the urgent need to reduce inequalities in the availability of good hand hygiene and other infection prevention and control measures between high and lower income countries. A new WHO online monitoring portal will help countries identify and address gaps.
This is a serious challenge at any time, but COVID-19 has dramatically demonstrated just how important good hand hygiene practices are in reducing the risk of transmission, when used as part of a comprehensive package of preventative measures.
Good hand hygiene is also vital in preventing any infections acquired in health care, the spread of antimicrobial resistance and other emerging health threats. Infection acquired during health care delivery is a major global health problem, but patients in low- and middle-income countries are twice as likely to experience this as patients in high-income countries (15% and 7% of patients respectively); the risk in intensive care units (ICU), especially among newborns, is between 2 and 20 times higher. One reason for this is that in some low-income countries only 1 in 10 health workers practices proper hand hygiene while caring for patients at high risk of health care-associated infections in ICU – often because they simply do not have the facilities to do so.