SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands – ECDC supports World Hand Hygiene Day 2021


Each year on 5 May, the “SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands” campaign takes place as part of a major global effort led by the World Health Organization to mobilise people around the world to increase adherence to hand hygiene in all healthcare settings, thus protecting healthcare workers and patients from healthcare-associated infections caused by various pathogens.


Healthcare-associated infections, including those resistant to antibiotics, are a growing public health problem in Europe. However, a large percentage of these infections are preventable by improving hand hygiene practices. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, hand hygiene also is one of the most effective ways of reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

ECDC supports this campaign and highlights hand hygiene as the most important measure to prevent the transmission of bacteria and viruses in all healthcare settings, and as one of the main components of good infection and control practices which, along with the prudent use of antibiotics, contribute to tackling the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.

Seconds save lives: clean your hands!

With this year’s slogan “Seconds save lives – clean your hands!”, the World Health Organization calls on healthcare workers to achieve effective hand hygiene at the point of care. The point of care refers to the place where three elements come together: the patient, the healthcare worker, and care or treatment involving contact with the patient or their surroundings. To be effective, hand hygiene should be performed: at 5 specific moments (i.e. (1) before touching a patient, (2) before a clean/aseptic procedure, (3) after body fluid exposure risk, (4) after touching a patient, and (5) after touching a patient’s surroundings), and in the most effective way at the point of care, by using the right technique with readily available products.