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The Global Handwashing Partnership

Celebrating World Health Worker Week

April 1, 2019

This week (April 1 -7) is World Health Worker Week. World Health Worker Week is a chance to mobilize support for frontline health workers and celebrate their work. The week also draws attention to the fact that the world simply does not have enough health workers, with the World Health Organization estimating a shortage of 18 million health workers compared to the workforce needed to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

Health workers often work in challenging conditions. Many do not have access to the supplies, support, and professional opportunities they need. For many, this also means a lack of access to clean water, appropriate sanitation, and adequate handwashing facilities needed for safe care delivery. Clean hands help health workers keep themselves and patients safe from infection; but a 2018 study found that 66% of health facilities in low and middle income countries lack soap and piped water for handwashing.

This week, the Global Handwashing Partnership is rounding up some of our key resources to help you advocate for improved hand hygiene in health facilities:

Clean hands count for frontline health workers: This 2018 post from our team on the Frontline Health Workers Coalition blog unpacks why hand hygiene is critical to global health security, ways we can work to improve WASH in health facilities, and the links between WASH and health workforce advocacy.

Hand hygiene leader profiles: Improving hand hygiene takes strong leadership, accountability, and teamwork to change behaviors. Read our case studies to see what that leadership looks like in practice. Learn how Nkwan Jacob Gobte developed an innovative program to make alcohol-based handrub in Cameroon; Maureen Banks used data and accountability to reduce infection rates through hand hygiene in the United States; and Selvyn Merida improved hand hygiene for all staff in a hospital in Guatemala.

Hand hygiene in health care advocacy pack: This advocacy pack provides tools and information to advocate for better hand hygiene in health facilities. It covers the impact, current practice, and strategies for hand hygiene in healthcare facilities. This advocacy pack includes: an advocacy brief, infographic, social media toolkit, data sheet, and talking points that can be adapted to convince decision makers to prioritize hand hygiene in your country or region.

This week, the Global Handwashing Partnership encourages all handwashing champions to get involved in the World Health Worker Week campaign. Visit the campaign page from the Frontline Health Workers Coalition to learn more about the impact of frontline health workers worldwide, send a thank you note to your favorite health worker, and join the conversation on social media using #WHWWeek.

Photo: A nurse pours water from a pitcher to help the surgeon scrub for a cesarean section at St. Therese Hospital in Central Plateau, Haiti. © 2014 C. Hanna-Truscott/Midwives for Haiti, Courtesy of Photoshare

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