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About World Hand Hygiene Day

World Hand Hygiene Day is celebrated each year on May 5,2021. It's organised by the WHO to encourage the practise of hand washing. While we are grappling with Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring hand hygiene is more important than ever. Cleaning hands with soap, hand wash, sanitizer, etc. removes dirt, pathogens and bacteria from hands that cause a lot of lethal and contagious diseases. A lot of infections are preventable if people make it a habit to wash hands regularly and especially before meals, or when entering indoor premises. A dedicated annual hand hygiene day is celebrated to remind the people again and again about the dire need to keep their hands clean.

Importance of World Hand Hygiene Day

As per WHO estimates, more than 50% of health infections are preventable if only caregivers and medical staff wash and sanitize their hands properly. Frontline medical workers and those who work in the food and catering industry should give extra emphasis to hand hygiene. By unfailingly following this simple act, they can prevent the transmission of microbes and pathogens that may make someone sick. Those who are suffering from influenza or any other respiratory diseases, need to wash their hands before they touch a surface or their eyes, mouth, etc. Spread of respiratory and intestinal diseases can be lowered by up to 40% if everyone rigorously follows hand hygiene.

History of World Hand Hygiene Day

Since the publication of hand hygiene guidelines in the US in the 1980s, hand hygiene day and similar events are conducted globally in various forms to spread awareness about the need to wash hands. Around the early 1990s, a handwashing awareness week began. Over the years, it can become global in its reach and with WHO's active role ensures participation, coordination and collaboration at multiple levels to spread the message. Nowadays, everyone from universities to clinics to NGOs to government departments are spreading the message through diverse ways and ensuring the reach is vast.

Aims of World Hand Hygiene Day

The main aim of World Hand Hygiene Day is to spread awareness about the importance of hand washing and how a small activity that hardly takes a few minutes can create a big impact in curtailing the spread of transmissions. The day seeks to nudge people to embrace healthy hand hygiene for their own health as well for the larger benefit of society.


By motivating medical workers as well as the general public to make certain behavioural changes that will go a long way in creating a healthier society, World Hygiene Day endeavours to drive home the point that there shouldn't be any lethargy or compromise when it comes to hand washing. On Word Hygiene Day, WHO engages with healthcare workers to tell them how important safe hand washing practises is while they tend to patients.


There's also a campaign that aims towards massive involvement of decision-makers at the highest rung to spread awareness about hand washing, sanitization and sterilization, and provide a safe, clean environment. Covid-19 taught us that hand-washing and sanitizing cannot be taken for granted. It's a drill that needs to be followed every time. Making this message widespread and amplifying it through multiple mediums, is what the World Hand Hygiene Day reminds us every year.

How is World Hand Hygiene Day Celebrated

Each year, WHO comes up with a theme for the day. Based on the theme, informative posters and other material is prepared that can be freely accessed on the website. Since the main aim of the World Hand Hygiene Day is to spread massive awareness, active public participation and coordination between public, medical staff and government authorities is a must. Events and workshops are conducted on this day by different NGOs and other groups. People form small groups and disseminate the necessity of hand washing in their localities. Social media has emerged as a platform for social change and broadcasting one’s point to a wider audience, so it is also deployed to spread the message about the merits of handwashing. In the nutshell, people can choose whatever they want to and both cherish World Hand Hygiene Day and spread its message.

How to Observe World Hand Hygiene Day

For World Hand Hygiene Day 201, WHO has issued 5 definitive hand hygiene guidelines for medical staff. These guidelines can be made into posters, animations, infographics and circulated widely.


The guidelines advise medical staff to wash hands:

  • before touching a patient;
  • before cleaning procedures;
  • after body fluid exposure/risk;
  • after touching a patient;
  • after touching surroundings.

There are also in-depth documents that can be downloaded on the WHO website and read and shared. Further, there are posters, campaign banners, animations and social media type posts on this year's theme 'SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands'. You can also trend the social media hashtag World Hand Hygiene Day on May 5 and conduct a small voluntary workshop at your school, college or workplace.

World Hand Hygiene Day Campaigns

The campaign theme for World Hand Hygiene Day 2021 is SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands. Emphasis will be on building awareness about the necessity of hand-washing and making it most effective especially when we are tackling a contagion. WHO envisages robust health care delivery systems where there's no transmission of pathogens due to negligence in maintaining hand hygiene. WHO would also call for a global systematic approach that ensures ready availability of hand sanitizers, water, soap, disposable towels and a sink at every medical care centre, so that healthcare staff wash their hands without delay.


This year the World Hand Hygiene Day campaign will also press for the global implementation of WHO 2020 recommendation for universal hand hygiene and the Hand Hygiene for All Initiative conducted jointly by WHO and UNICEF.


 In 2020, the same campaign theme SAVE LIVES was implemented: Clean your hands was positioned alongside the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. The dire need of hand hygiene for medical staff and frontline workers was highlighted.

World Hand Hygiene Day Dates




May 5



May 5



May 5



May 5



Wrapping Up

As stated earlier, hand hygiene has been regarded as one of the most crucial everyday activities.  It’s essential to celebrate World Hand Hygiene Day to be aware of its importance. Just as you sensitize hand hygiene as a precaution, so should you consider availing a health insurance plan to ensure quality healthcare access for you and your family, without worrying about medical costs. If you plan to opt for health insurance, check out the various benefits that plans on Bajaj Markets offer. 

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FAQs related to World Hand Hygiene Day

  • ✔️What's the need to create global hand hygiene awareness among medical staff?

    It's estimated by WHO that every year there are over 1.4 million cases of hospital acquired infections. Most of these are due to poor hand hygiene and are entirely preventable.

  • ✔️How important is hand hygiene for patients?

    Hand hygiene is the simplest and most effective way to check the spread of many pathogens and microbes that cause infections and can worsen a patient's condition.

  • ✔️What are the types of microbes that can spread if hand hygiene is not maintained?

    Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, Klebsiella, Enterobacter and many more types of microbes can spread if hands are not kept clean.