The Global Hygiene Council (GHC), an independent council of leading experts in hygiene and infection prevention, has released a report urging governments and policymakers to prioritize hygiene in home and community settings in pandemic preparedness plans. The report, titled “Making Hygiene Matter,” emphasizes the critical role of hygiene in reducing infections and combating the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which is associated with 4.95 million deaths in 2019 and could claim 10 million lives annually by 2050 without intervention.
Elizabeth Scott, GHC Chair and Microbiologist and Professor Emerita at Simmons University in Boston, USA, highlights the need for urgent action, stating that good hygiene is a cost-effective, accessible solution to prevent infections and save lives. The report identifies four pillars for change: sustaining hygiene awareness in everyday settings, reducing the need for antibiotics through hygiene practices, recognizing the economic benefits of effective hygiene, and driving behavior change to establish strong hygiene habits.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the secondary benefits of increased hygiene practices have been observed, such as a decrease in the prevalence of other diseases, including seasonal flu and common illnesses in children. Scientists confirm a ‘clear consensus’ that this decline was due to human behavior and hygiene-based mitigation measures.
The GHC is urging governments, policymakers, and health authorities to adopt and implement the report’s recommendations when responding to existing and future infectious disease threats, including AMR. By prioritizing hygiene, millions of lives can be protected, and a healthier future can be ensured for all.