The WHO has published the first global report on infection prevention and control

The COVID-19 pandemic and other recent outbreaks of major diseases have highlighted the extent to which healthcare facilities can contribute to the spread of infections, harming patients, healthcare professionals and visitors if insufficient attention is paid to infection prevention and control (IPC). . But a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that when good hand hygiene and other cost-effective practices are followed, 70% of these infections can be prevented.

Today, out of every 100 patients in emergency hospitals, seven patients in high-income countries and 15 patients in low- and middle-income countries will receive at least one healthcare associated infection (HAI) during their hospital stay. An average of 1 in 10 affected patients will die from their HAI.

Intensive caregivers and newborns are at particular risk. And the report reveals that approximately one in four hospital cases of sepsis and nearly half of all cases of organ dysfunction sepsis treated in adult intensive care units are health-related.

Today, on the eve of World Hand Hygiene Day, the WHO presents the first-ever global report on infection prevention and control, which brings together evidence from the scientific literature and various reports, as well as new data from WHO studies.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many challenges and gaps in IPC in all regions and countries, including those that have had state-of-the-art IPC programs,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “He also provided an unprecedented opportunity to take stock of the situation and quickly increase the preparedness and response to the epidemic through IPC practices, as well as strengthening IPC programs throughout the health system. Our challenge now is to ensure that all countries are able to allocate the human resources, supplies and infrastructure that this requires. “

The new WHO report provides the first-ever global analysis of the way IPC programs are implemented in countries around the world, including regional and national focuses. While highlighting the harm to patients and healthcare professionals caused by HAI and antimicrobial resistance, the report also looks at the impact and cost-effectiveness of infection prevention and control programs, as well as the strategies and resources available to countries to improve them.

The impact of health-related infections and antimicrobial resistance on people’s lives is incalculable. More than 24% of patients affected by health-related sepsis and 52.3% of patients treated in the intensive care unit die each year. Deaths increase two to three times when infections are resistant to antimicrobials.

Over the past five years, the WHO has conducted global surveys and joint country assessments to assess the state of implementation of national IPC programs. Comparing data from the 2017-18 and 2021-22 surveys, the percentage of countries with a national IPC program has not improved; moreover, in 2021–2022, only four of the 106 countries assessed (3.8%) had all the minimum IPC requirements at national level. This is reflected in the inadequate application of IPC care practices, with only 15.2% of health facilities meeting all minimum IPC requirements, according to a 2019 WHO study.

However, encouraging progress has been made in some areas, with a significant increase in the percentage of countries with an IPC focal point, a special IPC budget and a frontline training program for health professionals; developing national IPC guidelines and a national HAI monitoring program or plan; use of multimodal strategies for IPC interventions; and establishing compliance with hand hygiene as a key national indicator.

Many countries have demonstrated strong commitment and progress in enlargement actions to introduce minimum requirements and key components of IPC programs. Progress is strongly supported by the WHO and other key players. Maintaining and further expanding this progress in the long term is a critical need that requires urgent attention and investment.

The report reveals that high-income countries are more likely to advance in their work on the IPC and are eight times more likely to have more advanced IPC implementation status than low-income countries. In fact, between 2018 and 2021, there has been a slight improvement in the implementation of national IPC programs in low-income countries, although increased attention has been paid to the IPC as a whole due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO will continue to support countries to ensure that IPC programs can be improved in each region.

The WHO calls on all countries around the world to increase investment in IPC programs to ensure the quality of care and safety of patients and healthcare professionals. Not only will this protect their populations, increased investment in IPC has also shown that it improves health outcomes and reduces healthcare and out-of-pocket costs.

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Notes to editors

IPC is a clinical and public health specialty based on a practical, evidence-based approach that prevents injury to patients, healthcare professionals and healthcare visitors from avoidable infections, including those caused by antimicrobial-resistant acquired during the provision of health services. It occupies a unique position in the field of safety and quality of care for patients and healthcare professionals, as it is universally relevant for every healthcare professional and patient, in every interaction in healthcare.

About the WHO

The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, the WHO works with 194 member states, six regions and 149 offices to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that one billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect another billion people from health emergencies and to provide another billion people with better health and well-being.

For updates on COVID-19 and public health tips to protect against coronavirus, visit and follow the WHO at TwitterFacebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitch.

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