On the occasion of World Hand Hygiene Day, the World Health Organisation South- East Asia Region has joined global calls for immediate and sustained action to achieve effective hand hygiene at the point of care, primarily in health care facilities.

According to a press release issued by New Delhi-based WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia today, health care-associated infection (HAI) is a major global health problem, affecting millions of patients every year.

Globally, seven in developed and 15 in developing countries out of every 100

patients in acute care hospitals, acquire at least one HAI.

Appropriate hand hygiene prevents up to 50 per cent of avoidable HAIs, including those affecting health and care workers.

The region has in recent years made targeted efforts to strengthen infection prevention and control (IPC) measures, including hand hygiene, in line with Flagship Priorities in achieving universal health coverage, preventing and combating antimicrobial resistance, and accelerating reductions in maternal, neonatal and under-five mortality.

Since 2016, all countries, including Nepal, have been implementing the region's strategy for patient safety, which identifies hand hygiene as a priority intervention.

Amid the COVID response, all countries have participated in IPC trainings, a regional consultation aimed at aligning key interventions with WHO's new Global Patient Safety Action Plan. "Accelerated action is needed amid a new wave of COVID-19 infection and as part of ongoing vaccination campaigns. Globally, health and care workers account for around 6.5 per cent of COV- ID-19 cases," it said.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 5, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.