Urgent Call for Action: Prioritizing Hygiene to Prevent Infections and Save Lives
A new report by the Global Hygiene Council (GHC) calls for urgent action to prioritize hygiene in pandemic preparedness plans. The independent council of experts in hygiene and infection prevention urges governments and policymakers to recognize the critical role hygiene plays in protecting millions of lives, particularly in the face of the ongoing ‘silent pandemic’ of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
The GHC report, titled “Making Hygiene Matter,” identifies four pillars for change to improve public health: sustaining hygiene awareness in everyday settings, reducing the need for antibiotics through hygiene practices, recognizing the economic benefits of effective hygiene, and driving behavior change to establish strong hygiene habits. These changes are crucial as AMR, associated with 4.95 million deaths in 2019, could claim 10 million lives annually by 2050 without intervention.
The secondary benefits of increased hygiene practices during the COVID-19 pandemic have been observed, such as a decrease in prevalence of other diseases, including seasonal flu and common illnesses in children. The GHC is urging governments, policymakers, and health authorities to adopt and implement the report’s recommendations when responding to existing and future infectious disease threats, including AMR.