Posted on May 10, 2017

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) again this year marked World Hand Hygiene Day (WHHD) by holding a number of activities across its network of hospitals to emphasize the importance of hand hygiene.

World Hand Hygiene Day, observed every 5 May, is a global campaign declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) to promote good hand hygiene practices among individuals working in healthcare. The theme for this year’s WHHD campaign is ‘Fight Antibiotic Resistance - It's in Your Hands.’

Each year, the WHHD campaign aims to enhance the global profile of good hand hygiene in healthcare and bring people together in support of hand hygiene improvements. The WHHD campaign at HMC was organized by the Corporate Infection and Prevention Control Program (CIPC). The CIPC is a strategic program that aims to develop effective infection control practices to drive continuous quality improvement within the organization. Such practices can prevent the spread of hospital-acquired infections caused by blood and other bodily fluids.

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During this year’s campaign, HMC staff were encouraged to revisit the five key moments of hand washing, as defined by WHO for healthcare workers. These include: before touching a patient, before cleaning and aseptic procedures (insertion of devices such as catheters), after contact with bodily fluids, after touching a patient, and after touching a patient’s surroundings. “All healthcare workers should be aware of and follow these hand washing practices. While the compliance rate at HMC is above international standards, there is always room for improvement. Improving hand hygiene will save lives, unnecessary suffering, and is cost effective. The support of all staff is vital to achieving these goals,” said Dr. Jameela Al Ajmi, Executive Director, Corporate Infection Prevention and Control, Quality and Patient Safety and Senior Consultant in Infectious Diseases, HMC.

According to the WHO, every year millions of patients globally are adversely affected by healthcare-associated infections. More than half of these infections can be avoided with properly cleaned hands. “Worldwide, millions of healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) occur on a daily basis, many of which result in serious harm or death. HCAIs include a range of infections acquired in hospitals or as a result of healthcare interventions. HCAIs are a serious disease burden and have a significant economic impact on patients and healthcare systems. Yet good hand hygiene – the simple task of cleaning hands at the right times and in the right way – can save lives,” she said.

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Dr. Al Ajmi noted that the burden of clinical diseases attributable to HCAIs in most healthcare settings range from five to 15 percent and can affect up to 40 percent of patients admitted to intensive care units. “HCAIs are clearly a major patient safety problem and the simple action of hand hygiene has been shown to dramatically reduce these infections, particularly those caused by resistant microorganisms. For this reason, hand hygiene improvement provides a gateway to wider improvements in safety and quality, and is a cost-effective intervention,” she said.

“Hand washing with soap and water has been proven to be one of the most effective and inexpensive measures to prevent the transmission of infections among healthcare professionals, patients, and their families, as well as visitors to a hospital. This year’s World Hand Hygiene Day campaign is part of our ongoing efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of not only our patients but also our staff who are committed to delivering the best possible care.”