I know personally that good hand hygiene can save lives.
In November 2011, I lost my father Clifford to the Superbug MRSA following a routine procedure in a hospital. Within 24 hours of being discharged he started to feel unwell and we took him back to hospital and were devastated to hear he had been infected with MRSA. He was in an out of hospital for the last four months of his life. While he was there, despite the fact he was suffering from an infection he picked up in hospital, I was shocked by the lack of awareness of basic hand hygiene in this particular hospital.
Antimicrobial Resistance is on the Global Agenda
With some 25,000 people a year dying from infections resistant to antibiotic drugs in Europe alone, this is a threat that is happening right now. With resistance to antibiotics being on the global agenda, hand hygiene is just one important aspect to prevent the spread of infection, but also to prevent common illnesses such as food poisoning.
Since the pioneering of anti-bacterial drugs some 70 years ago, the pharmaceutical industry has done much to save the lives of millions of people; however the success has led to widespread demand by both the medical and farming sectors. This created an adverse effect; the over-prescription of antibiotics has led to bacteria becoming resistant to their effects. The result is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to fight off the stronger strains of infections.
While many physicians understood the danger of over-prescribing antibiotics and sought to cut back, the farming industry increased their use and it now accounts for over 50 per cent of consumption in Europe and 70 per cent in the United States.
Thankfully Britain is leading the way, with our Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies and the Prime Minister doing a huge amount to persuade organisations and other countries putting Antimicrobial Resistance firmly on the global agenda.
Why this campaign?
We want to raise awareness around hand hygiene and make sure we can spread the word far and wide that simple, easy hand hygiene techniques can make a real difference.
This isn’t just about hospital settings either. With an ageing population and growing pressure on the NHS, preventing infections and illness is more important than ever.
Hand hygiene is a big part of that, and I hope you will be able to support this campaign.