Conference presentation: Lessons from COVID-19 – how do we re-engage the public to play their vital role in preventing spread of infection?
This is a video of the presentation given by Professor Sally Bloomfield, Chairman of the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene (IFH), at the UK Infection Prevention Society Meeting in Liverpool, September 2021
The presentation looks at the dramatic changes that have occurred in the last 20 or so years that have brought hygiene in home and everyday life back up the health agenda. Globally, pandemic preparedness plans recognised that, in the early stages, hygiene is essential to mitigate spread before other measures can be put in place. Ongoing, hygiene in the community is also a key part of tackling AMR. Hygiene also plays a vital role in shielding “vulnerable groups” living in the community
The paper suggests that if we are to re-engage the public, hygiene practice in the home - and in everyday life needs to be reviewed to ensure it is appropriate to the issues we currently face. Equally there is a need to develop hygiene strategies which address the public’s lack of understanding of hygiene and how it differs from cleanliness.
The paper sets out the approach which IFH has been developing since 1997 to meet these needs. This approach, called Targeted Hygiene, is based on risk management which means focusing hygiene practices at the times (the 9 key moments) and the places where cleanliness really matters to break the chain of infection. The need to develop hygiene procedures which are both effective and sustainable is also discussed
The paper presents some of the results from a recent public poll in 23 EU countries which showed that although 80-90% agreed that hygiene is important, the public have limited understanding of the concept of a risk based approach to hygiene.
The paper makes reference to the 2021 white paper in which IFH makes a number of calls to action to stakeholders, on what needs to be done to re-engage the public to play their part in preventing spread of infection.