Infection prevention and control

Health care without avoidable infections

The critical role of infection prevention and control


Publication details

Number of pages: 15
Languages: English
WHO reference number: WHO/HIS/SDS/2016.10


No one should get sick seeking care. Yet globally, hundreds of millions of people are affected every year by health care-associated infections (HAIs), many of which are completely avoidable and a large proportion are caused by antibiotic resistant organisms. No country or health system, even the most developed or sophisticated, can claim to be free of HAIs.

Preventing HAIs has never been more important. HAIs significantly impact the ability of health systems to adapt, respond and manage infection risk alongside the ongoing clinical care of patients. Infection prevention and control (IPC) is a practical, evidence-based approach preventing patients and health workers from being harmed by avoidable infections. Effective IPC requires constant action at all levels of the health system, from policy-makers to facility managers, health workers and those who access health services.

There is a worldwide consensus that urgent action is needed to prevent and control the spread of antibiotic resistant organisms and in health care effective infection prevention and control (IPC) is one solution. Every infection prevented is an antibiotic treatment avoided and IPC action can save millions of lives every year.