Clean Care is Safer Care

Background to WHO's facilitated country or area campaigns informal network

The impact of the WHO hand hygiene guidelines

Acknowledging the significant role which countries or areas play in implementing hand hygiene and in spreading a global hand hygiene improvement movement, the WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care (2009) made the following recommendations to national governments:

  • Make improved hand hygiene adherence a national priority and consider provision of a funded, coordinated implementation programme, while ensuring monitoring and long-term sustainability.
  • Support strengthening of infection control capacities within health-care settings.
  • Promote hand hygiene at the community level to strengthen both self-protection and the protection of others.
  • Encourage health-care settings to use hand hygiene as a quality indicator.

Early developments - 2007

The first survey of country or area hand hygiene campaigns was undertaken by WHO in 2007. In August that year, twenty representatives from such campaigns attended the first gathering of countries or areas in Geneva. A key objective of the meeting was to explore the opportunities for strengthening the global response to health care-associated infections (HAI) through leveraging the solidarity of a formal partnership of nations. The network would have one common aim - to address HAI through a focus on better hand hygiene (albeit not exclusively). Following the meeting, terms of reference for this envisioned informal network of countries or areas were drafted with leadership from WHO and concurrence obtained from countries.

2009 and beyond

During early 2009 intense efforts were made through WHO regional focal points and other contacts to further identify existing and new campaigns. At this time it was established that there were at least 38 campaigns/ programmes in nations/sub-nations. The survey was repeated to gather information from all these countries or areas. In August 2009, the informal network of campaigns met again in Geneva to formalize their collaboration. Since then, the participants have maintained communications using electronic means as the primary mode. Opportunities where several participants are normally present, such as conferences, are used to arrange short meetings of the group.

The reports from the first meetings of this informal network are available below.

Mathai E, Allegranzi B, Kilpatrick C, Bagheri Nejad S, Graafmans W, Pittet D. Promoting hand hygiene in healthcare through national/subnational campaigns Journal of Hospital Infection 2011;77(4):294-8.

Further details

Campaigns or programmes with country or area coverage, whether currently implementing or in advanced stages of planning to implement hand hygiene improvement, are encouraged to join this informal network. Please contact us at