Research for infection protection

World Hand Hygiene Day 2017

This year’s 5 May – the Hand Hygiene Day of the World Health Organization (WHO) – is all about antimicrobial resistance. With the tagline “Fight antibiotic resistance – it’s in your hands” WHO focusses on hand hygiene as most important measure to prevent antimicrobial resistance. Because, in addition to rational antibiotic use and the development of new antibiotics, consistent hand hygiene measures play a decisive role in combatting resistance to antibiotics.

Hand Hygiene Day on 5 May 2017:
Preventing antibiotic resistance by hand hygiene

Globally, the increase in antimicrobial resistance among bacteria becomes a growing threat. In fact, in Europe alone, 25 000 people die from infections with antibiotic resistance; in the US, the figure is around 23 000 – with upward tendency [1, 2].

WHO stands up to this constantly increasing risk with many campaigns and activities. In 2015, the “Global action plan on antimicrobial resistance” was initiated [3]. In February this year, WHO published a list with bacteria which are classified as particularly important due to their antibiotic resistance [4]. This priority list comprises twelve groups of bacteria. The more limited the therapy options are, the more urgent the development of new antibiotics. Thus, WHO wants to channel the research and development of new antibiotics in the right direction. Depending on the urgency of need for a new antibiotic, the bacteria are divided into three categories: critical, high and medium priority.

WHO’s list of priority pathogens for the research and development of new antibiotics

Priority 1: CRITICAL

  1. Acinetobacter baumannii, resistant to carbapenem
  2. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, resistant to carbapenem
  3. Enterobacteriaceae, resistant to carbapenem, resistant to third-generation cephalosporin

Priority 2: HIGH

  1. Enterococcus faecium, resistant to vancomycin
  2. Staphylococcus aureus, resistant to methicillin, intermediate or resistant to vancomycin
  3. Helicobacter pylori, resistant to clarithromycin
  4. Campylobacter spp., resistant to fluoroquinolone
  5. Salmonellae spp., resistant to fluoroquinolone
  6. Neisseria gonorrhoeae, resistant to third-generation cephalosporin, resistant to fluoroquinolone

Priority 3: MEDIUM

  1. Streptococcus pneumoniae, non-susceptible to penicillin
  2. Haemophilus influenzae, resistant to ampicillin
  3. Shigella spp., resistant to fluoroquinolone

However, an effective prevention is at least as urgent as the development of new antibiotics: here, WHO considers hand disinfection the most important measure to prevent infection, also those triggered by multidrug-resistant germs.

Hence, WHO puts its most important campaign day to promote hand hygiene under the tagline “Fight antibiotic resistance – it’s in your hands” and dedicates the day to the combat of antimicrobial resistance.

Infographic “Antimicrobial resistances: From a global problem to a multimodal solution”

Our picture puzzle also focuses on the hands: those searching the hidden hands will be rewarded with surprising facts.

View the picture puzzle and search hands now




1. Accessed on 24 April 2017
2. Accessed on 24 April 2017
3. WHO. Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance. 2015
4. Accessed on 24 April 2017