Glove use one opportunity for World Hand Hygiene Day, says Commission

5 May 2015 | Infection Prevention & Control

As today’s World Hand Hygiene Day marks the 10th anniversary of the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Clean is Safer Care programme, latest figures show New Zealand health care workers continuing to make good progress with their performance.

Nationally, public hospital staff are adhering to WHO’s ‘five moments’ for hand hygiene on more than 77 percent of recorded occasions, and are closing in on Hand Hygiene New Zealand’s (HHNZ’s) June 30 goal of 80 percent.

The recommended ‘five moments’ for cleaning hands are:

  • before touching a patient
  • before a procedure
  • after a procedure or body fluid exposure risk
  • after touching a patient
  • after touching a patient’s surroundings.

WHO describes action on the moments as an ‘entrance door’ to strengthening health care systems and delivery.

It says hand hygiene is core to all health interventions, whether inserting an invasive device, managing a surgical wound or giving an injection.

Dr Sally Roberts, clinical lead for the Health Quality & Safety Commission’s infection prevention and control programme, agrees, and says HHNZ’s latest report on district health boards’ (DHBs’) hand hygiene performance shows how much effort is being put into improvement.

‘There is continued improvement on lots of fronts in the report,’ says Dr Roberts, ‘including for each of the ‘five moments’; in all three situations when gloves are used (before they are put on, when they are taken off, and at the appropriate times during patient care); and among many of the health care worker categories, particularly medical practitioners and student doctors.’

Fourteen of New Zealand’s 20 DHBs are adhering to the ‘five moments’ on 75 percent or more of occasions, with eight of them doing so on 80 percent or more of occasions.

‘Today is a great opportunity for those DHBs whose staff are not yet on 80 percent to give it an extra push,’ says Dr Roberts.

‘Glove use is one area they might think about. Although this is improving, it remains a key cause of missed hand hygiene opportunities and rates highly as a barrier to best practice.

‘Gloves are not in themselves a substitute for hand hygiene. Only wear them when clinically indicated and clean your hands directly before and directly after you do so.’

For more on glove use and other aspects of hand hygiene, including the latest report on DHBs’ performance, visit

Last updated 05/05/2015