Washing hands surgeon MB27652

Clean hands save lives

4 May 2012 | Infection Prevention & Control

Having clean hands before and after contact with patients is one of the most important things health care workers can do to prevent infections, says the Health Quality & Safety Commission.

Today (5 May) is World Hand Hygiene Day and the Commission says it is a good reminder of the importance of good hand hygiene in the fight against preventable healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs).

“People use health and disability services to maintain their health, prevent illness or to recover from an illness they already have,” says Dr Janice Wilson, the Commission’s Chief Executive.

“They certainly wouldn’t expect to get an infection that could be avoided through good hand hygiene.

“World Hand Hygiene Day is a prompt to congratulate the health sector for the good work that is underway and to emphasise the need for clean hands to be the norm in health care.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that millions of patients around the world are affected by infections acquired in health care settings.  These infections contribute to deaths and disability, promote resistance to antibiotics, complicate the delivery of patient care, and impose extra costs on health systems.

Dr Wilson urged health care workers – and patients and their families - to familiarise themselves with the WHO’s recommended 5 moments to perform hand hygiene:

  • before patient contact
  • before a procedure
  • after a procedure or body fluid exposure
  • after patient contact
  • after contact with patient surroundings

“Health professionals want to provide the best possible care for patients, and having clean hands is a basic part of this,” says Dr Wilson.

The Commission has contracted Auckland District Health Board to deliver a national hand hygiene programme, to build awareness of how and why hand hygiene should be performed, and to work with DHBs to improve hand hygiene compliance.

More information is available in our Infection Prevention & Control section or the Hand Hygiene New Zealand website.

Last updated 30/07/2018