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Forgetting to wash your hands can cost lives

Date: Thu 11th May 2017

When Bandana Das, a midwife in India, washes her hands it is not simply routine, it is a critical step in reducing infection and saving the lives of mothers and newborns.

"I have seen mothers discharged from the health facility and then come back to the same facility with severe infections and high-temperatures,” says Bandana, the president of the Society of Midwives in India. “Many of these mothers do not survive."

Worldwide, 30 000 women and 400 000 babies die every year from infections, such as puerperal sepsis, often caused by lack of water, sanitation and poor hand-washing practices. In an era of antimicrobial resistance it is crucial that all midwives wash their hands at key moments – before and after touching a patient, before medical procedures, and after being exposed to bodily fluids.

However, up to 70% of health workers do not adhere to recommended hand hygiene practices, according to WHO.

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