Save lives: Clean your hands

Thursday, 5 May 2011 – Health Protection
Save lives: Clean your hands

The Public Health Agency (PHA) is sending out a clear message – SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands. The PHA is supporting the World Health Organization (WHO) in their global campaign to improve and sustain excellent levels of hand hygiene. This campaign focuses on the reduction of healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) by emphasising the vital role played by all health and social care workers in keeping hand hygiene a top priority. The PHA wishes to remind the public that good hand hygiene is also their personal responsibility and we all play a part in controlling the spread of infections by making sure we have clean hands.

Each year, millions of patients around the world are affected by HCAIs, most of which are preventable through good hand hygiene.

The key aim for 5 May this year is for healthcare facilities around the world to move towards commitment to action by using the WHO Hand Hygiene Self-Assessment Framework (HHSAF). The HCAI team within the health protection service in the PHA have focused on getting private nursing and residential homes throughout Northern Ireland to use this audit tool to endorse good hand hygiene practice within their facilities.

The PHA will be working in partnership with private nursing and residential homes in the Northern area on 5 May. Staff, residents, visitors, members of the public and pupils from a local training college will be reminded about the importance of hand hygiene in the reduction of HCAIs, and everyone will be invited to demonstrate how good their hand washing technique is during this event.

Dr Lourda Geoghegan, Consultant in Health Protection, PHA, said: “Effective hand washing is one of the most important tools in preventing many illnesses. Clean hands are vital in controlling the spread of healthcare associated infections, as well as other illnesses such as food poisoning and seasonal flu.”

Dr Geoghegan continued: “A strong focus on hand hygiene is critical to our efforts to prevent the spread of infections. The PHA continues to work with Health and Social Care Trusts, primary care, and residential and nursing homes to promote excellence in hand hygiene across all health and social care settings. This is a good example of a global health promotion initiative that has much relevance for everyone in Northern Ireland.

“It is the collective responsibility of everyone – healthcare workers and the general public – to be proactive in preventing the spread of infection. The simple act of cleaning your hands is paramount in ensuring clean, safe healthcare. I would urge everyone to follow good hand hygiene practices, whether in a healthcare environment or in the home.”

Further information

Contact the PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611.