Skip to main content


We're creating a new version of this page. See preview

  • Commentary
  • Open Access

Clean Your Hands 5th May 2017: 'Fight antibiotic resistance - it's in your hands'

Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control20176:39

  • Received: 6 April 2017
  • Accepted: 7 April 2017
  • Published:


  • Infectious Disease
  • Antibiotic Resistance

Preventing healthcare-associated infections and reducing their avoidable impact on health systems is critical today to make facilities safer for patients worldwide [1]. In addition, the increasing public health burden of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) urges to action [2]. Stronger political commitment in reducing AMR was highlighted at the last United Nations General Assembly in September 2016 in New York.

Hand hygiene is at the center of effective infection prevention and control (IPC) to combat AMR spread [3]. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently issued guidelines on the Core Components of effective IPC programmes [1]. Their implementation will allow for strong, resilient health systems in all settings. The guidelines include the application of a multimodal strategy that consists in achieving system change (infrastructure and resources), raising awareness, education and training, monitoring and timely feedback and a patient safety culture that includes visibly committed leadership. This approach improves hand hygiene, reduces infections and saves lives [4]. Therefore, on the occasion of the upcoming 5th May 2017 Global Annual Hand Hygiene Day, WHO urges policy makers, top-level managers, IPC specialists and other health professionals to focus on the fight against AMR spread, by building ever stronger hand hygiene and IPC programmes (Table 1).
Table 1

5th May 2017 key World Health Organization campaign messages

Health workers: “Clean your hands at the right times and stop the spread of antibiotic resistance.”

Hospital Chief Executive Officers and Administrators: “Lead a year-round infection prevention and control programme to protect your patients from resistant infections."

Policy-makers: "Stop antibiotic resistance spread by making infection prevention and hand hygiene a national policy priority."

IPC leaders: "Implement WHO’s Core Components for infection prevention, including hand hygiene, to combat antibiotic resistance.”

We encourage health facilities worldwide to endorse the WHO's 5th May 2017 campaign [5] and further improve hand hygiene, fight antibiotic resistance and commit to progressing towards adherence with all core components of IPC programmes.

Let’s fight antibiotic resistance together; it's in our hands.



Antimicrobial resistance


Infection prevention and control


World Health Organization.



We thank Mohamed Abbas, Geneva, Switzerland who provided helpful input.


Ermira Tartari and Daniela Pires are partially supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (32003B_163262) for hand hygiene research activities. Daniela Pires is also supported by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (SFRH/SINT/95317/2013).

Availability of data and materials

Not applicable.

Authors' contributions

DP made contributions to the conception, the design and reviewing the manuscript. ET and DP drafted the commentary. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors decalre that they have no competing interests.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

No patient-related data were collected. Ethical approval was therefore not required.

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Authors’ Affiliations

Infection Control Programme and WHO Collaborating Centre on Patient Safety - Infection Control & Improving Practices, University of Geneva Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine, 4 Rue Gabrielle-Perret-Gentil, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
Infection Control Unit, Mater Dei Hospital, Msida, Malta
Department of Infectious Diseases, Centro Hospitalar Lisboa Norte and Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal


  1. World Health Organization. Guidelines on core components of infection prevention and control programmes at the national and acute health care facility level. 2016. Available at: Accessed 30 January 2017.
  2. World Health Organization. Global action plan on antimicrobial resistance. 2015. Available at: Accessed 30 January 2017.
  3. World Health Organization. WHO guidelines on hand hygiene in health care: first global patient safety challenge: clean care is safer care. Geneva, Switzerland. 2009. Available at: Accessed 30 January 2017.
  4. Luangasanatip N, Hongsuwan M, Limmathurotsakul D, et al. Comparative efficacy of interventions to promote hand hygiene in hospital: systematic review and network meta-analysis. BMJ. 2015;351:h3728.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  5. World Health Organization. SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands WHO’s Global Annual Campaign Advocacy Toolkit. Available at: Accessed 30 January 2017.


© The Author(s). 2017