“There are two sides to building the culture of hand hygiene: health workers maintaining the culture of hand hygiene during care, and educating patients on the 5 moments of hand hygiene to know the role they play in demanding the quality of care.”
—Mrs. Rita Okonkwo. Project Director, SECURE-Nigeria, Institute of Human Virology Nigeria
14 years ago, World Hand Hygiene Day (WHHD) was launched as the “Clean Your Hands” global campaign and is celebrated annually on 5 May. The goal of the annual campaign is to promote the culture of hand hygiene in quality health care delivery.
This year, the global campaign theme as set by the World Health Organization (WHO) was “Accelerate Action Together. SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands”. It was a call to Civil Society Organizations to spearhead and accelerate progress in achieving effective hand hygiene at the point of care.
As a nonprofit developing champions to prevent diseases and save lives, we know that breaking systemic barriers to the hand hygiene culture indeed involves a strong collaborative effort. As such, to celebrate the WHHD this year, we organized an event in one of the Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) in Lagos state and also hosted a virtual event to drive conversations towards promoting hand hygiene culture and addressing these barriers that hinder this progress.
Training on Hand Hygiene for Health Workers
On World Hand Hygiene Day, the 5th of May 2023, we held a one-day training event at Akerele Primary Health Centre (PHC), in Surulere, Lagos State. Our goal was to promote hand hygiene at the point of care, to equip health workers in the facility, and to work together to advance infection prevention and control (IPC) through regular hand cleaning.
Members of the DRASA team, joined by representatives of the Nigerian Society of Infectious Diseases (NSIC) met with the Medical Officer of Health of the Surulere Local Government Area and 40 staff of the Akerele PHC.
During the interactive session, participants began to appreciate the importance of regular hand hygiene, seeing that the most common way infections spread among people is through the hands. We reviewed with them the origin of hand hygiene in healthcare, the definition of hand hygiene, handwashing steps, 5 moments of hand hygiene for a healthcare provider, hand hygiene tips, other hand washing etiquette, as well as the ideal location for hand washing stations in healthcare settings.
One of the highlights of the session was the simulation of germ transmission and the practical demonstration of effective handwashing techniques as a way to prevent this transmission.
As the event unfolded, participants took a pledge to be Hand Hygiene Champions in their facility and community.
With the conclusion of the engaging demonstrations and a lively Q&A session, the event drew to a close. The Medical Officer of Health stepped up to deliver the closing remarks followed by a feedback session where participants ensured their voices were heard before we closed the successful event.
Hand Hygiene Day Twitter Space Event
Promoting the culture of hand hygiene is not just for health workers. Patients and the public need and demand this care and are also responsible not just for holding their providers accountable, but also for playing their part to help prevent the spread of diseases through clean hands. No one is safe until everyone is safe.
So, in line with this year’s theme for World Hand Hygiene Day, we hosted a Twitter Space conversation in collaboration with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) and the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).
The 90-minute conversation on the Twitter Platform focused on the topic. “Accelerating actions towards addressing barriers to hand hygiene in health facilities”. The goal of the event was to keep the public informed on the importance of working together to initiate and sustain the culture of hand hygiene in healthcare delivery, by x-raying the barriers and highlighting practical solutions. Speakers were subject matter experts on IPC drawn from our partner organizations— Dr. Tochi Okwor (NCDC), Dr. Chris Elemuwa (NPHCDA), Dr. Augustine Ajogwu (FCTA), and Mrs. Rita Okonkwo (IHVN).
Over 492 people listened live on Twitter. Major highlights involved a call-to-action for members of the public – patients and relatives of patients – their role in demanding accountability, regular hand hygiene, and promoting that culture within their various communities.
At the end of the session, listeners were encouraged to take an online pledge to demonstrate their commitment to ensuring a culture of hand hygiene and 103 people did.
Building a hand hygiene culture requires the effort of everyone, whether as the givers or receivers of care. With the turnout of professionals and the public at our online and offline campaigns to commemorate this year’s World Hand Hygiene Day 2023, we are confident that there will be an improvement in this practice in order to keep our hospitals and communities safe.