Making Hygiene Matter in the Home and Community Setting: The GHC's Four Pillars for Change

The Global Hygiene Council (GHC) is a global expert organisation dedicated to improving public health by promoting good hygiene practices. In September 2020, the GHC published a position paper in the American Journal of Infection Control, titled ‘ Reducing Antibiotic Prescribing and Addressing the Global Problem of Antibiotic Resistance Through Targeted Hygiene in the Home and Community Setting ’. In 2022, the GHC convened a meeting of global experts to discuss the role of home and community hygiene practices in protecting the public from the COVID-19 pandemic and key learnings for improving future public health policies and recommendations.

The expert meeting resulted in the development of a consensus report, including four key pillars for change, which provide recommendations and suggested steps for improving and sustaining the adoption of appropriate hygiene practices to reduce the global burden of common infectious diseases. The GHC hopes that these pillars for change will inform the global public health agenda, drive change in public health policies, improve pandemic preparedness, decrease antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and deliver better health outcomes globally.

Read the ‘Making Hygiene Matter’ Report

Making Hygiene Matter Report's Cover

The four pillars for change identified by the GHC are:

  1. Build on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic: Governments and health authorities should link lessons learned from the implementation of hygiene practices in previous pandemics, such as handwashing, mask wearing and surface disinfection, to provide policy guidance for future public health campaigns and infection prevention and control policies.

  2. Mainstream AMR-sensitive infection prevention and control tools: There should be more focus on infection prevention and investment in new antimicrobials, vaccinations and antimicrobial stewardship. National action plans on AMR should be adapted to include Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) recommendations for home and community settings.

  3. Quantify the economic benefits of hygiene: Hygiene education and access to appropriate hygiene facilities should be considered as critical and cost-effective solutions for facilitating hygiene behaviour change and protecting against the spread of infectious diseases in schools, workplaces and communities.

  4. Establish strong hygiene habits: Public communications campaigns should be easy to understand and built on evidence-based approaches. They should highlight the personal impact that changing hygiene behaviour has on the health of families and communities with respect to reducing the risk of infection.

Download the ‘Making Hygiene Matter’ Infographics

The GHC's four pillars for change are based on the expert insights of global opinion leaders in public health and hygiene. The GHC hopes that governments, health authorities and other stakeholders will adopt these pillars and implement the recommended steps to improve public health and hygiene practices in the home and community setting.