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Antibiotic resistance fight is in healthcare workers’ hands: WHO

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) has lent its voice to a World Health Organization (WHO) campaign to fight antibiotic resistance through good hand hygiene practices.

Dr Trent Yarwood, from the Commission, said when it comes to antibiotic resistance, preventing patients from getting infections in the first place is becoming more and more important.

Dr Mahmoud Fikri, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said the slogan for this year's campaign is 'Fight antibiotic resistance – it’s in your hands'.

Fikri said: "Hand hygiene is at the core of effective infection prevention and control to combat antibiotic resistance. Campaigning each year on or around 5 May [for international Hand Hygiene Day] is one important part of improving awareness and behaviour in favour of effective infection prevention and control."

WHO called on policy-makers to stop antibiotic resistance spread by making infection prevention and hand hygiene a national policy priority.

Adjunct professor Debora Picone, chief executive of the Commission, said while several factors, such as the unnecessary use of antibiotics, were responsible for driving antibiotic resistance, hand hygiene among health workers and the public is an important tool in stopping the spread of infection.

“We must all play our role in stopping the spread of harmful bacteria,” Picone said. “Doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers who come into contact with patients, as well as the rest of the community can all help. Ask your healthcare professional, ‘have you washed your hands?’.”

The Commission said Five Moments for Hand Hygiene reminds all healthcare workers of the need to ensure clean hands. These moments are:

  1. Before touching a patient.
  2. Before a procedure.
  3. After a procedure.
  4. After touching a patient.
  5. After touching a patient’s surroundings.
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