Research for infection protection

WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care

Issued in 2009. With its “WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care. First Global Patient Safety Challenge – Clean Care is Safer Care”, WHO recommends a global system change in hand hygiene toward alcohol-based hand disinfectants as “gold standard”. 

According to WHO, alcohol-based hand disinfectants are the only known means for rapidly and effectively inactivating a wide array of potentially harmful microorganisms on hands. Before issuing the global recommendations, WHO thoroughly assessed logistical, economic, cultural aspects and safety issues. 

In its recommendation, WHO lists the following properties and advantages of alcohol-based hand disinfectants: 

  • evidence-based, intrinsic advantages of fast-acting and broad-spectrum microbicidal activity with a minimal risk of generating resistance to antimicrobial agents
  • suitability for use in resource-limited or remote areas with lack of accessibility to sinks or other facilities for hand hygiene (including clean water, towels, etc.)
  • capacity to promote improved compliance with hand hygiene by making the process faster and more convenient
  • economic benefit by reducing annual costs for hand hygiene
  • minimisation of risks from adverse events because of increased safety associated with better acceptability and tolerance than other products.