World Hand Hygiene Day 2022


5 May 2022

Today is World Hand Hygiene Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of good hand hygiene in health care settings and its direct link to overall good health. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hand hygiene has been one of the critically important measures implemented to prevent the spread of the virus, especially for those working in health care settings.

According to the World Health Organization, when the culture of quality and safety in a health care setting values hand hygiene and infection prevention and control (IPAC), this “results in both patients and health workers feeling protected and cared for.” Practicing good hand hygiene is a critical part of IPAC. Prioritizing hand hygiene in health care settings has been proven to reduce both the spread of infections and transient microorganisms, and reduce the occurrence of health care-associated infections (HAIs).

Public Health Ontario (PHO) provides multiple resources to promote and share best-practices in hand hygiene across all health care settings.

Soap versus alcohol-based hand rub

Evidence shows that the use of alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) is just as good, if not better in some situations, at reducing bacterial contamination on an individual’s hands. Both methods reduce the spread of microorganisms that can cause illness and spread infection, and both methods are effective for cleaning hands. In health care settings, alcohol-based hand rub is the preferred method for cleaning hands unless hands are visibly soiled. When hands are visibly soiled, then soap and water is preferred. Using any method to clean our hands multiple times throughout the day can cause contact dermatitis which is a skin irritation or allergy. PHO provides resources on the prevention, early detection and management of occupational contact dermatitis for those working in health care settings. Check out our instructional videos on how to properly use ABHR and wash your hands.

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Updated 5 May 2022