The Global Hygiene Council (GHC) has released a report calling for urgent action to prioritize hygiene in home and community settings in pandemic preparedness plans. Titled “Making Hygiene Matter,” the report emphasizes the importance of hygiene in reducing the incidence of infections and prevalence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a silent pandemic threatening human health.
In 2019, AMR was associated with 4.95 million deaths, and without action, this number could rise to 10 million deaths annually by 2050. Elizabeth Scott, GHC Chair and Microbiologist and Professor Emerita at Simmons University in Boston, USA, stresses the need for urgent action, noting that good hygiene is a cost-effective, accessible solution to prevent infections and save lives.
The report outlines four pillars for change to improve public health: 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. The GHC is urging governments, policymakers, and health authorities to recognize the critical role hygiene plays in protecting millions of lives and addressing the growing threat of AMR.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, increased hygiene practices have resulted in a decrease in the prevalence of other diseases, such as 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 encourages the adoption and implementation of the report’s recommendations to address both existing and future infectious disease threats, including AMR, and ensure a healthier future for all.