Every year hospital-related infections kill 16 million patients worldwide. Germs and bugs are microscopic and cannot be seen with the naked eye. Hands are the most common vehicle of transmission of germs and bugs in the community and in hospitals.
A simple intervention of effective hand hygiene can potentially reduce hospital acquired infections and thus related deaths by up to 50%.
Annually, the World Health Organisation (WHO) organises a World Hand Hygiene Day campaign on 5 May to raise awareness of the importance of good hand hygiene practices.
This year, the Unit of Infection Prevention and Control (UIPC) at Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) and Tygerberg Hospital once again joined hospitals and healthcare institutions across the world to support the WHO in its initiative.
The 2016 focus was placed on the role of clean hands in safe surgical care. Approximately 300 people, including faculty and hospital staff, as well as students, formed a human chain in the hospital's surgical ward. They passed a hand hygiene baton down the chain and demonstrated good hand hygiene practice prior to and after handling the baton.
Teams and individuals in other wards of the Tygerberg Hospital were encouraged to create hand hygiene posters, with the best judged posters winning a variety of prizes.
"Preventing infections and reducing an avoidable burden on health systems are still critical around the world today and is part of making sure every healthcare setting is safe for treating every single patient," said Ms Joria Cronje, a lecturer in the UIPC. "It is a cheap intervention to reduce infections to help save lives."