Promoting hand hygiene in healthcare through national/subnational campaigns

J Hosp Infect. 2011 Apr;77(4):294-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2010.10.012. Epub 2011 Feb 26.


The World Health Organization (WHO) First Global Patient Safety Challenge conducted a baseline survey of coordinated large-scale activities in improving hand hygiene in healthcare in 2007. The survey was repeated in early 2009 to assess current status and generate information on factors contributing to success. Coordinated activities were identified through WHO regional offices and experts in the field. An online survey using a structured questionnaire was conducted during March-April 2009. Personnel involved in all 38 campaigns/programmes in 2009 completed the survey. Of these, 29 were active national/subnational-level initiatives and 22 (75.8%) were initiated after the Challenge launch in October 2005. Main targets were general, district, and university hospitals with increasing coverage of long-term care facilities and primary care. The scope varied from awareness-raising to formal scaled-up activities with ongoing evaluation. Most initiatives (20/29) obtained funding from multiple sources with governments among the main funders; governments also initiated 25/29 (86.2%) programmes. The facilitator role played by the Challenge in initiating and supporting activities with tools and recommendations was clearly identified. The perceived significance of specific barriers varied considerably across initiatives. Those related to commitment (priority and support) and resource availability were important across all regions. Hand hygiene is being promoted in healthcare in many nations/subnations with clear objectives, strategies, and governmental support through policies and resource allocation. While this is important for sustainability, further action is required to initiate coordinated activities across the world, including countries with limited resources.

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Hand Disinfection / methods*
  • Health Facilities
  • Health Policy
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • World Health Organization