International Infection Prevention Week - History, Theme, And More

The International Infection Protection Week is held every year during the third week of October. The week aims to remind people of various ways to prevent and fight the spread of infections. The week also focuses on personal prevention against infections as well as in public settings. 


Various awareness campaigns are held to celebrate the week that offers people and healthcare providers the necessary information to improve infection protection at home, in multiple communities, and at medical facilities. No matter where people are, there are bound to be germs. They can come in the form of viruses and bacteria. Preventing their spreadability rate is an essential part of this week and saving thousands of lives. 


This year, the event will be held from October 17 through October 23. 




The International Infection Prevention Week was established in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. The week was established to pay attention to the significance of infection prevention when it comes to saving lives and healthcare funds. The week is an annual effort highlighting the importance of preventing infections among healthcare professionals, legislators, consumers, and administrators. 


Over the years, the week of recognition has expanded vastly to every corner of the world, including the United Kingdom, the Middle East, Australia, and Southeast Asia. As the outreach and recognition of the International Infection Prevention Week widen, more and more patients will benefit from safe healthcare practices along with a reduced threat of healthcare-related infections. 




Covid-19 has continually shown us all that we were aware of - infection preventionists play an integral role in our lives. They help us all keep our neighborhood safe and healthy. In addition to fighting against the global pandemic, preventing infections and controlling our community protects us from seeing sudden surges in healthcare-associated infections, measles or flu outbreaks, and other day-to-day infectious battles that we all face. 




The International Infection Prevention Week was established in 1986 to shine a light on infection prevention every year. In the previous year, the week focused on celebrating the brave and tireless efforts of our infection preventionists and healthcare providers during the global pandemic. This year, the theme is “Make Your Intention Infection Prevention.” The theme looks forward to highlighting the science behind preventing infections and inspiring our next generation of infection preventionists to join this fight. 


You are an integral part of preventing infections.



Prevention is always the first line of defense, as far as infections are concerned. Handwashing is often the first step we can take to prevent them. Hands must be washed:


- After you use the bathroom

- Before and after you are preparing food 

- Before we eat 

- After coughing, sneezing, and blowing your nose


Another way to prevent infections is by getting appropriately vaccinated. Vaccinations/immunizations can help prevent infections from various bacteria/viruses making us sick. In some instances, they can also help us all recover from already spread infections quickly. 


If one does become sick, the doctor might prescribe them certain antibiotics. You must follow the correct instructions provided by your healthcare provider. Completing the course of your antibiotics is necessary to prevent a flare-up of your infection. Even if you start feeling better after taking your medication for a few days, stopping them before you complete your entire course is finished might cause the next bout of infection to get worse. More potent antibiotics might be required in such cases, which may or may not prove effective. 


Infection Prevention Basics


When you visit a hospital or any other healthcare setting to receive appropriate medical care/attention, you are vulnerable to catching multiple infections. Unfortunately, in the United States alone, nearly 75,000 people die every year because of various infections they catch in healthcare facilities. This means 1 in every 30 people die just because of acquiring infections. Most of these deaths could have been avoided if proper care had been taken to prevent such infections. The good news is, patients, their families, and their visitors can take multiple steps to avoid various infections by simply knowing a few basics to prevent infections. 


Here are ten simple ways to prevent infections:


1. Speak up to your healthcare provider

2. Clean your hands multiple times a day

3. Talk about safe injection practices with your healthcare providers 

4. Ask to have your room cleaned often 

5. Ask necessary questions about your medication

6. Ask if you need to shower before your surgery 

7. Ask if you need a catheter every day 

8. Ask about essential vaccines for you to stay healthy 

9. Recognize an infection preventionist 

10. Learn about the most common healthcare-related infections 


Common Healthcare-Related Infections 


Healthcare-Related Infections are infections that patients can catch while receiving treatment for any medical/surgical condition. Whether you are in a hospital, a care facility, an outpatient surgery center, a dialysis center, a doctor’s clinic, or anywhere else, you can be at risk for infections. These kinds of infections are usually preventable. 


As per a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of every 25 hospitalized patients gets infected due to the care they receive, which can cost an estimated $28.4-$45 billion every year. This also leads to almost 75,000 patients dying every year. Additionally, according to the World Health Organization, nearly 35% of healthcare facilities worldwide do not promote healthy hand hygiene habits. 


The most common healthcare-related infections are:


- Catheter-associated urinary tract infection 

Infections spreading to people’s kidneys and bladder because of a urinary catheter 


- Surgical Site infections 

Infections usually develop after surgery in a specific part of the body where the surgery took place earlier. 


- Bloodstream infections 

Infection spreading to people’s bloodstream through the catheter or tube placed in one’s veins. 


- Pneumonia 

Infections to one’s lungs.


- Clostridium Difficile 

Germs that cause diarrhea usually occur in patients consuming antibiotics.


- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus 

Germs that cause severe infections of skin or wounds 


- Vancomycin-resistant enterococcus 

Germs that are resistant to various antibiotics, including vancomycin 


Who are infection preventionists?



Infection preventionists are professionals who ensure that healthcare providers and patients are both practicing safe infection-prevention-based practices. They are like detectives who ensure every healthcare provider is doing their part to protect their patients from developing major or minor infections. 


Infection preventionists ensure the following:


- Catheters or any other device be placed inside your skin after being properly cleaned 

- Healthcare providers take care of you, before and after they treat you

- Your healthcare provider is wearing gloves, masks, and gowns/PPE Kits at the appropriate times, and that your visitors need to do the same.

- Your room and healthcare equipment are clean at all times.


Observing International Infection Prevention Week


Celebrate and honor the International Infection Prevention Week by raising awareness about healthy habits. Talk to your healthcare provider on tips to take care of yourself better. Talk to your loved ones, tell them you care about them and offer them guidance on taking good care of themselves with the right resources. 


Keep up to date with your immunizations. Wash your hands, stay home when you fall sick or see any kind of symptoms. Follow your healthcare provider’s orders. Read the right resources on the internet and follow tips to prevent infections. You can also share posts to raise awareness about the resources and the day on your social media using the #InternationalInfectionPreventionWeek



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