The report gives a situation analysis of infection prevention and control (IPC) programmes across the world, including data from recent World Health Organization (WHO) research

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Marking World Hand Hygiene Day, 05 May 2022, the WHO has released its first ever global report on IPC, which focuses on IPC implementation at various levels, highlighting the situations, challenges, impact, and economics involved in implementing IPC programmes at a global level.

The report provides information on the effectiveness of certain IPC measures and their level of implementation across the world. A key finding is that good hand hygiene and other cost-effective practices can prevent 70% of infections in healthcare settings.

In a 2021–2022 survey, only four of 106 assessed countries met all of the WHO’s minimum requirements for national IPC. Only 15.2% of healthcare facilities surveyed in 2019 met the minimum IPC requirements.

According to the report, 7% of patients in high-income countries, and 15% in low- and middle-income countries, will acquire a healthcare-associated infection during their time in hospital. On average, 10% of affected patients will die from it.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO, said: ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many challenges and gaps in IPC in all regions and countries, including those which had the most advanced IPC programmes.

‘It has also provided an unprecedented opportunity to take stock of the situation and rapidly scale up outbreak readiness and response through IPC practices, as well as strengthening IPC programmes across the health system. Our challenge now is to ensure that all countries are able to allocate the human resources, supplies, and infrastructures this requires.’

Giving his opening remarks at a WHO press conference, Dr Ghebreyesus added: ‘The simple act of cleaning hands can save lives, especially in healthcare facilities, where vulnerable patients can be exposed to infection.’

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