How significant is the problem of infections in health care across the world?

May 2014

Q: How significant is the problem of infections in health care across the world?

A: Health care-associated infections occur worldwide and affect hundreds of millions of patients both in developed and developing countries. Lack of reliable and standardized surveillance data suggests a significant underestimation of the real burden of disease.

The risk of acquiring health care-associated infections is universal and can be found every health-care facility and system around the world. Health-care workers are often the channel for the spread of such infections to other patients in their care. It should also be noted that many patients may carry microbes without any obvious signs or symptoms of an infection.

Q: Why is hand hygiene still low after all the efforts to promote in recent years?

In recent years many parts of the world have seen major improvements in hand hygiene. However, there is still not enough access to clean water, not enough sinks or towels, not enough awareness of the central role played by hand hygiene, and not enough investment in a multifaceted approach to tackle the abysmally low levels of compliance.

Whatever the reasons, even in resource-rich settings, compliance can be as low as 0%, with compliance levels most frequently well below 40%.

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