Save Lives – Clean Your Hands campaign in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia


The WHO global campaign Save Lives – Clean Your Hands on 5 May 2014 drew worldwide attention to the role of hand hygiene in preventing the spread of drug-resistant germs. Activities in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia focused on conveying the message to health workers that they should practice good hand hygiene when caring for patients to protect them from contracting infections in health facilities.

The WHO Country Office organized various activities in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, National Public Health Institute, Medical Faculty and the Centre for Regional Policy Research and Cooperation (CRIS) Studiorum, and others.

Technical meeting

A meeting of technical experts organized in cooperation with the Institute Medical Faculty in Skopje and CRIS Studiorum promoted the campaign´s main messages and addressed particularly the threat of drug-resistant disease.

Increased and unnecessary use of antibiotics is leading to the development of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, thereby reducing the drugs´ power to act when they are most needed. Hands are the most important mode of transmisson of microorganisms in health care settings, and the spread of multiresistant microorganisms can cause:

  • serious infections, especially in critically ill patients;
  • extended hospital stays;
  • long-term disability;
  • a financial burden on patients and their families;
  • a financial burden on the health system; and
  • most important of all, loss of human life.

The lecturers pointed out that adherence to hand hygiene will lead to a reduction of intra-hospital infections, especially those with multi-resistant organisms. Improved hand hygiene is associated with a 24% reduction in the risk of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection/colonization.

Participants included experts in microbiology, surgery and public health, representatives of clinics and hospitals as well as the civil sector and WHO.

Campaign materials 

Materials such as posters and leaflets produced for the global campaign were translated into the local languages (Macedonian and Albanian), and some were distributed to more than 150 national and local public health institutions, hospitals and relevant health professionals in the country.  

Media and online coverage

Press information was developed and distributed to 30 media outlets. The developed materials were also posted on the web pages of medical professional associations, the Ministry of Health, National Public Health Institute and CRIS Studiorum.

Ongoing campaign

The WHO Country Office will continue to stress the message “Save Lives – Clean Your Hands” at various events organized throughout the year as part of the Organization´s biennial collaborative agreement 2014–2015 with the Ministry of Health.