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Social media becomes more and more important – also in the field of infection prevention

Picture of Prof. Didier Pittet at the WHO congress speaking into a microphone in front of a screen
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With Social Media we can target the people we want to speak to, says Prof. Didier Pittet, director of the WHO Collaborating Centre on Patient Safety. With him spoke Carola Timmel at the congress.

Mr. Pittet, why social media became so important also in the field of hospital hygiene and infection control?

Social Media is extremely important today. We were used to do communication with the very classic approach which is having a company helping you to promote a strategy. Now we can still use this approach, but social media has replaced or actually have complemented this type of strategy by large. With using social media, we can target the people we want to speak to, and this is extremely important. And we can mobilise a lot of people to use social media as well. And so social media is actually a community, a community of infection control practitioners, of physicians, of nurses, of health care practitioners, that get together for patient safety. And if they want to improve hand hygiene, if they want to correct inadequate behaviour they can do this together. And that is the way we actually promote the 5th of may.

Which role plays social media in the upcoming 5th of may?

On the WHO 5th of may-day – the global hand hygiene day – that the WHO is promoting, we are actually recommending people to use social media. This year the action will be “clean hands against antibiotic resistance”. And we hope that many people endorse this. We are recommending people to take pictures of themselves – selfies or group pictures, that will be distributed and available on the website of WHO where clean hands and antibiotic resistance will actually be mentioned together.

You mentioned that at the beginning you were not a “fan” of social media, and then you have seen the advantages of this tool …

Well, I was not a fan for myself, because actually it takes a lot of time, but I realized that it’s a way to reach people, and to reach people on the bedside which is very important, as well as to reach people at a very senior level or in policy and offices. So I must recognize that social media now is the modern way to communicate.

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