CARIBBEAN-PAHO calls for improved hand hygiene to prevent antimicrobial resistance

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As part of the “SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands campaign,” the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) calls for improved hand hygiene to prevent antimicrobial resistance in the Americas, including the Caribbean.

PAHO says the lack of adequate and timely hand hygiene raises the risk of health care-associated infections and the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which risks patients’ lives.

“The fight against antibiotic resistance is in your hands” is the motto of this year’s campaign, led by the World Health Organization (WHO).

PAHO estimated that 61 percent of health workers around the world do not sanitize their hands when necessary, and that 1.4 million people daily contract infections in health care services.

Jonas Gonseth-Garcia, PAHO advisor on quality health systems and services, said infections associated with health care represent “the most frequent adverse occurrence” in the region during hospital care.

“These can be avoided with hand hygiene,” he said.

To make it easier for health workers to clean their hands at the right time and in the right way, Gonseth-Garcia urged hospitals and health centers to make alcohol solution easily accessible.

“They will help protect people from infections that often put their lives at risk,” he said.

PAHO said the five key moments for hand hygiene recommended by WHO are: Before touching the individual; before performing a clean or aseptic task; after the risk of exposure to body fluids; after touching the individual; and after contact with the person’s environment.

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