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Clean Your Hands 5th May 2017: 'Fight antibiotic resistance - it's in your hands'

Preventing healthcare-associated infections and reducing their avoidable impact on health systems is critical today to make facilities safer for patients worldwide [1]. In addition, the increasing public health burden of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) urges to action [2]. Stronger political commitment in reducing AMR was highlighted at the last United Nations General Assembly in September 2016 in New York.

Hand hygiene is at the center of effective infection prevention and control (IPC) to combat AMR spread [3]. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently issued guidelines on the Core Components of effective IPC programmes [1]. Their implementation will allow for strong, resilient health systems in all settings. The guidelines include the application of a multimodal strategy that consists in achieving system change (infrastructure and resources), raising awareness, education and training, monitoring and timely feedback and a patient safety culture that includes visibly committed leadership. This approach improves hand hygiene, reduces infections and saves lives [4]. Therefore, on the occasion of the upcoming 5th May 2017 Global Annual Hand Hygiene Day, WHO urges policy makers, top-level managers, IPC specialists and other health professionals to focus on the fight against AMR spread, by building ever stronger hand hygiene and IPC programmes (Table 1).

Table 1 5th May 2017 key World Health Organization campaign messages

We encourage health facilities worldwide to endorse the WHO's 5th May 2017 campaign [5] and further improve hand hygiene, fight antibiotic resistance and commit to progressing towards adherence with all core components of IPC programmes.

Let’s fight antibiotic resistance together; it's in our hands.

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Antimicrobial resistance


Infection prevention and control


World Health Organization.


  1. World Health Organization. Guidelines on core components of infection prevention and control programmes at the national and acute health care facility level. 2016. Available at: Accessed 30 January 2017.

  2. World Health Organization. Global action plan on antimicrobial resistance. 2015. Available at: Accessed 30 January 2017.

  3. World Health Organization. WHO guidelines on hand hygiene in health care: first global patient safety challenge: clean care is safer care. Geneva, Switzerland. 2009. Available at: Accessed 30 January 2017.

  4. Luangasanatip N, Hongsuwan M, Limmathurotsakul D, et al. Comparative efficacy of interventions to promote hand hygiene in hospital: systematic review and network meta-analysis. BMJ. 2015;351:h3728.

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  5. World Health Organization. SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands WHO’s Global Annual Campaign Advocacy Toolkit. Available at: Accessed 30 January 2017.

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We thank Mohamed Abbas, Geneva, Switzerland who provided helpful input.


Ermira Tartari and Daniela Pires are partially supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (32003B_163262) for hand hygiene research activities. Daniela Pires is also supported by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (SFRH/SINT/95317/2013).

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DP made contributions to the conception, the design and reviewing the manuscript. ET and DP drafted the commentary. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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The authors decalre that they have no competing interests.

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Correspondence to Didier Pittet.

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Tartari, E., Pires, D. & Pittet, D. Clean Your Hands 5th May 2017: 'Fight antibiotic resistance - it's in your hands'. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control 6, 39 (2017).

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