Home hygiene contributing to antibiotic resistance

Home hygiene contributing to antibiotic resistance
iStock-Moyo Studio

Hygiene experts have said that poor hygiene in the home is contributing to antibiotic resistance.

The Global Hygiene Council conducted a risk-based approach to home hygiene, concluding that good hygiene in the home is essential to help curb the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. Good hygiene contributes to the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in two ways, by preventing infection, thereby reducing the need for antibiotic prescribing, and preventing person to person spread of infections which are antibiotic resistant.

It is predicted that antimicrobial resistance will take the lives of more than 10 million people by 2050 if action is not taken, and that rates of resistance to commonly used antibiotics could exceed 40-60% in some countries by 2030. The experts are now calling for a review of hygiene practices in homes and everyday life to ensure that they are effective and appropriate to the urgent public health issues we currently face, such as AMR and COVID-19, and has launched a new hygiene manifesto.

The new Position Paper has been published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Spread of infections from the home

The paper says that in order to minimise the spread of infections from the home a more focussed approach to hygiene based on risk assessment is needed, such as washing hands at appropriate times and removing germs from high-risk surfaces.

As Professor Sally Bloomfield, public health expert and contributor to the paper, said: “Instead of deep-cleaning our homes, we urge everyone to maintain this evidence-based targeted ygiene approach in our homes and everyday lives, focussing on the times and places harmful microbes are most likely to spread, to not only help contain the spread of coronavirus now but ongoing to help tackle antimicrobial resistance.”

The new hygiene manifesto

The Global Health Council’s new manifesto calls on national and international policymakers, health agencies, and healthcare professionals to further recognise the importance of hygiene in the home and everyday life settings.

The manifesto asks them to acknowledge the following:

  • National AMR committees, responsible for implementing national antimicrobial resistance plans, should recognise that improved hand and surface hygiene in the home and community are key to minimise the spread of infections and as a consequence the consumption of antibiotics, which will then help in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. To achieve this, recommendations for improved hygiene in the wider community should be included in global antimicrobial resistance action plans by 2022 and in all national plans by 2025.
  • Infection Prevention Control advice, guidance, and education for healthcare professionals on hand and surface hygiene and its relation to antimicrobial resistance should not be limited to healthcare settings, but also include recommendations to influence the wider community with immediate effect.
  • Relevant medical associations should ensure messaging around home and community hygiene is cascaded to members through amending ongoing and existing antimicrobial resistance training and education.


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