Clean Care is Safer Care

The evidence for clean hands

The problem

Each year, hundreds of millions of patients around the world are affected by health care-associated infections (HCAIs). Although HCAI is the most frequent adverse event in health care, its true global burden remains unknown because of the difficulty in gathering reliable data. Understanding and assessing the global burden of HCAI is one of the key areas of work of the Clean Care is Safer Care programme. Systematic reviews of the literature have been conducted to identify published studies from both developed and developing countries and highlight the magnitude of the HCAI problem. The results of these reviews were published online on 10 December 2010 in The Lancet, and are compiled in a comprehensive WHO Report on the burden of endemic health care-associated infection worldwide.

The solution

Most health care-associated infections are preventable through good hand hygiene – cleaning hands at the right times and in the right way. The WHO Guidelines on hand hygiene in health care support hand hygiene promotion and improvement in health-care facilities worldwide and are complemented by the WHO Multimodal hand hygiene improvement strategy, the Guide to implementation, and implementation toolkit, which contain many ready-to-use practical tools. These tools have been field-tested and have yielded new, interesting data on hand hygiene practices and success factors for improvement.

Gather your own evidence: tools available

WHO supports World Sepsis Day - 13 September 2014

SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands promotional video

Key documents

WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care (revised Aug 2009)

Guide to implementation of the WHO multimodal hand hygiene improvement strategy (revised Aug 2009)

Contact us

For more information about Clean Care is Safer Care, please contact the team at savelives@who.int.