The Global Hygiene Council (GHC) has released a report calling for urgent action to prioritize hygiene in pandemic preparedness plans. This comes as the COVID-19 pandemic shows signs of ending, while the ‘silent pandemic’ of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) continues to threaten human health. In 2019, AMR was associated with 4.95 million deaths, a figure that could rise to 10 million deaths annually by 2050 without action.
The report, titled “Making Hygiene Matter,” highlights the importance of home and community hygiene in reducing the incidence of infections and prevalence of AMR. GHC Chair Elizabeth Scott, a Microbiologist and Professor Emerita at Simmons University in Boston, USA, emphasizes the need for urgent action to safeguard public health through cost-effective, accessible hygiene practices.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, increased hygiene practices have led to 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.
In response to existing and future infectious disease threats, including AMR, the GHC has outlined four pillars for change and is urging governments, policymakers, and health authorities to adopt and implement the report’s recommendations. This proactive approach to hygiene will protect millions of lives and ensure a healthier future for all.