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May 5th marks World Hand Hygiene Day, where the focus this year will be on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a huge threat to global health. Click here to read the previous article about how improved hand hygiene helps to tackle AMR.

  • Health workers: “Clean your hands at the right times and stop the spread of antibiotic resistance.”

Soapbox have been working towards developing stronger infection prevention and control (IPC) training for maternity unit health workers with a particular focus on hand hygiene. Providing practical training on interventions such as effective hand hygiene helps reduce the spread of pathogens from health worker to patient, this is particularly important during delivery when invasive procedures are performed, increasing the risk of transmissions.

  • Hospital Chief Executive Officers and Administrators: “Lead a year-round infection prevention and control programme to protect your patients from resistant infections.”

Through our partnerships we work with health facility management to promote the establishment of IPC programmes and conduct research into how IPC practices can be improved within the maternity unit. With simple interventions like hand hygiene, the need for antimicrobial drugs is reduced and infections prevented.

  • Policy-makers: “Stop antibiotic resistance spread by making infection prevention and hand hygiene a national policy priority.”

We are currently conducting the HANDS project in Zanzibar with the support of the Ministry of Health along with Pemba Public Health Laboratory and the University of Aberdeen which specifically looks at the barriers to good hand hygiene across ten high volume maternity units. We engage with Ministries of Health in the other countries in which we work to promote IPC and effective hand hygiene.

  • IPC leaders: “Implement WHO’s Core Components for infection prevention, including hand hygiene, to combat antibiotic resistance.”

WHO’s Core Components include developing technical, context specific, evidence-based guidelines for preventing infection as well as ensuring IPC education is in place for all health facility workers. A clean environment is critical for IPC and to help prevent recontamination of clean hands following hand hygiene. Soapbox has developed a training package for cleaners’ which we have piloted in The Gambia. This package includes practical teaching modules and visual, accessible guidelines for IPC and proper hand hygiene. Training in this area makes health facilities cleaner, safer places for patients at risk of infections and reduces the impact of AMR.

The four calls to action highlight the importance of the simple intervention of hand hygiene and the impact it can have on global health in preventing infections, saving lives, and reducing AMR. Join the conversation on Twitter by following the hashtag #handhygiene and support the fight against AMR.