In the wake of COVID-19, the Global Hygiene Council (GHC) has released a report emphasizing the importance of home and community hygiene in reducing the incidence of infections and prevalence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). With 4.95 million deaths associated with AMR in 2019, this silent pandemic is expected to claim 10 million lives annually by 2050 without intervention.
The report, titled “Making Hygiene Matter,” calls for urgent action to prioritize hygiene in home and community settings in pandemic preparedness plans. Elizabeth Scott, GHC Chair and Microbiologist and Professor Emerita at Simmons University in Boston, USA, believes that good hygiene is a cost-effective, accessible solution to prevent infections and save lives.
The GHC has outlined 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. The council is urging governments, policymakers, and health authorities to recognize the critical role hygiene plays in protecting millions of lives.
Scientists have observed a decrease in the prevalence of other diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic, including seasonal flu and common illnesses in children, 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.