About World Hand Hygiene Day

World Hand Hygiene Day celebrated on the fifth day of May every year should not be confused with Global Hand-washing Day, (Oct 15).

Purpose of World Hand Hygiene Day

The main purpose of this day is to spread awareness about the act of sanitizing one’s hands and its effectiveness in reducing* the spread of diseases. According to WHO, hand washing is the most significant step toward preventing the spread of often life-threatening HAI. SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands aims to reduce* HAI worldwide by targeting healthcare facilities and urging the workers to realize the importance of cleaning their hands.


This year, WHO’s theme for this day is:

“Strengthening healthcare systems and delivery – hand hygiene is your entrance door”

The World Health Organization (WHO) started the SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands global campaign in 2009 as an extension of the WHO First Global Patient Safety Challenge: Clean Care is Safer Care. May 5th, 2009 was the day when the first World Hand Hygiene Day was celebrated to further this cause and bring awareness to the vast majority of people who often ignore the importance of cleansing their hands regularly. WHO hopes to maintain this global movement and encourage others to join the campaign as it grows.


This year, WHO hopes to focus on the importance of hand sanitizing in a healthcare setting. According to WHO, the simple practice of cleaning one’s hands can have a dramatic effect on the reduction* of diseases which may spread via unclean hands. Healthcare workers will be the main demographic for the 2017 World Hand Hygiene Day.

The program has garnered a lot of praise and has been a driving force to initiate many actions at several levels to encourage the cause. As of April 2012, 127 Ministers of Health have pledged commitment to the noble cause WHO has initiated. Approximately 40 countries actively participate in this campaign and encourage their citizens to wash hands not only on World Hand Hygiene Day but every day.


SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands itself is the next level of WHO’s Clean Care is Safer Care program. The pledge of commitment that it demands has been an identifying feature of this campaign. World Hand Hygiene Day exists to remind all health workers that cleaning their hands at the right time and in the right way is essential to preventing the spread of diseases.

The global annual day also serves to familiarize people with the hand hygiene improvement tools developed by WHO.

What you can do on World Hand Hygiene Day?

WHO has several suggestions on what could be done to support their cause on this day. Since this year’s theme pertains to healthcare settings, this is what WHO wants you to do:

  • WHO wants you to show your own pledge of commitment to this cause on this day and spread the message using their social media hashtag #safehands. The higher this hashtag trends, the more people will be made aware of the benefits of cleaning hands. WHO also urges you to snap pictures of staff at hospitals or other healthcare facilities holding a WHO #safehands board or sign and post them on various social media platforms.
  • WHO challenges everyone around the globe to arrange a hand sanitizing rally in your DHB big enough to break the current world record. The current record is held by the Hong Kong Baptist Hospital, with a total of 277 participants.
  • Don’t forget to register with the campaign now.
  • A promotional video is coming soon. WHO urges people around the globe to watch the video and spread its message to as many people as possible.

Credit: Consumer health