LONDON, May 5, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — A new report launched today by the Global Hygiene Council (GHC), an independent council of leading experts in hygiene and infection prevention, calls for urgent action to prioritise hygiene in home and community settings in pandemic preparedness plans beyond COVID-19. The GHC urges governments and policymakers to elevate hygiene’s importance to protect millions of lives.
As the COVID-19 pandemic shows signs of ending, the ‘silent pandemic’ of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is ongoing, with AMR recognised as one of the largest threats to human health. In 2019, 4.95 million deaths were associated with AMR, highlighting its status as one of the largest threats to human health. Without action, this figure could rise to 10 million deaths annually by 2050. The GHC report, titled Making Hygiene Matter, highlights the importance of home and community hygiene in mitigating the incidence of infections and prevalence of AMR.
The report identifies four pillars for change, including sustaining hygiene awareness in everyday settings, reducing the need for antibiotics through hygiene practices, recognising the economic benefits of effective hygiene, and driving behaviour change to establish strong hygiene habits.
Microbiologist and Professor Emerita, Simmons University, Boston, USA & GHC Chair, Elizabeth Scott comments:
“The new report from the GHC is timely and provides tangible hygiene recommendations for change. We need to act now to safeguard public health – good hygiene is one of the most cost effective, easy and accessible solutions to prevent infections and save lives.”
The beneficial secondary effects of increased hygiene practices during the COVID-19 pandemic are now evident. Since the pandemic began, a decrease in the prevalence of other diseases has been observed, including cases of seasonal flu and other seasonal respiratory viruses with a significant drop in the number of common illnesses in children. Scientists have confirmed there is a ‘clear consensus’ that the reason why other respiratory diseases declined during the pandemic was due to human behaviour and hygiene-based mitigation measures.
The GHC urges governments, policy makers and health authorities to adopt and implement the recommendations in the report when responding to existing and future infectious disease threats, including AMR.