For a good hand hygiene

The hospitals

Since 2005, Belgian hospitals have been organising campaigns to promote hand hygiene in cooperation with the federal government. The results of those campaigns can be found below. They show that hand hygiene practised by care providers has improved with each campaign! Belgium is not the only country to organise such campaigns. Hand hygiene is also an important topic in other countries: a lot of actions are set up abroad. Find out more below.

Why campaigns ?

The transmission of harmful microbes by the hands of healthcare providers is the most important cause of the spread of healthcare associated infections. Hand hygiene is a very simple, efficient though cheap way to prevent this from happening. Numerous international reviews show however, that physicians, nursing and paramedic staff not always respect hand hygiene instructions. Thanks to the national campaigns for the promotion of hand hygiene, the compliance in Belgian hospitals certainly progressed. Yet, it remains necessary to repeat the campaigns on a regular basis.

The hand hygiene campaigns are an initiative of BAPCOC (Belgian Antibiotic Policy Coordination Committee) which also funds them, along with the Federal Public Service of Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment. 

What do the campaigns consist of ?

The Belgian hand hygiene campaign lasts one month. During that period, awareness is created amongst healthcare providers and hospitalized patients through posters, folders and other campaign material. For more information, visit www.handhygienedesmains.be.

The hand hygiene compliance of healthcare providers is measured before and after the campaign. The results are processed by the Scientific Institute for Public Health. These data form the basis for individual feedback  to the participating hospitals. They also reveal the impact of each campaign on the national level. The Institute publishes the national results in a report. These reports can be found on: www.nsih.be/HH/inleiding_nl.asp. 

What actions are taken by the Belgian hospitals ?

Over the past decade, Belgian hospitals have made great efforts in the struggle against healthcare associated infections. Among other things, by participating enthusiastically in the national campaigns for the promotion of hand hygiene. And they succeeded! The number of methicilline resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA infections has steadily decreased over the years (see graphic).

Evolution of MRSA in Belgium (new cases of MRSA per 1000 hospital admissions)

Actions organized by the Belgian hospitals on world hand hygiene day (5th of May) in 2012.