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The WHO guidelines are clear – we just have to implement them!

Hand Hygiene Day Symposium hosted by the Ministry of Health
Copyright: BKA Aigner
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“I wish that we soon do not need the Hand Hygiene Day anymore“- This was one of the audience’s statements at the symposium on the occasion of the International Hand Hygiene Day (5th May). Although there are a lot of enthusiasts, we are still far away from achieving this goal.

The symposium, hosted by the Ministry of Health on 3rd May, started with a lecture of Dr. Walter Zingg from the Geneva University Hospitals. He was demonstrating interesting data, comparing Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) in acute care hospitals in Austria and Switzerland on the basis of the point prevalence survey 2016-17. One of the main results of the survey was that the HAI prevalence in Austria (4 %) is lower than the average in the EU (5,5 %) and in Switzerland (5,9 %).

“Compliance plays an important part in the HAI-topic, and we should make every effort to develop a better hand hygiene culture“, said Zingg.

Due to Prof. Ojan Assadian, director of the state clinical center in Neunkirchen (Austria), the greatest weak point is communication – not only between the medical staff itself but also between the doctors and the management.

Hand hygiene management is much more complex than we think.  How can we bring the right message to the right people? The common phenomena of health personnel wearing gloves but forgetting to disinfect their hands is inacceptable.

We have to get to a point where it becomes an intrinsic motivation for people to disinfect their hands.  Therefore, the task is to find the right channel and message for each stakeholder.

For Dr. Herwig Lindner, President of the Medical Association of Styria, frequent change of staff is one of the major weaknesses in hand hygiene matters. Consistent training and information are from utmost importance: “The WHO guidelines are clear – we just have to implement them.”

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