Clean hands save lives – the book

Every year hospital-related infections kill 16 million patients. A Swiss doctor is reducing these numbers by half thanks to a very simple procedure: disinfecting hands using alcohol-based handrubs. We owe the existence of this procedure to Professor Didier Pittet, who has revolutionized the fight against nosocomial illnesses.

Since 2005, in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO), he has been leading a global campaign in which 170 out of 194 UN member states now take part. His crusade is recounted in a book that promises to be a major event. 


  • 1992 : Didier Pittet calculates that using soap and water, a health care worker must spend 22-44 minutes per hour washing his or her hands in order to avoid contaminating patients.
  • 1993 :   In his hospital, he replaces handwashing at a sink with disinfection by means of alcohol-based handrub, which destroys 99.9% of bacteria in just a few seconds.
  • 1995 : He demonstrates that the introduction of this new strategy has reduced the number of infections, and thus the related deaths, by 50%.
  • 2000 : Publication of these results in the scientific magazine, The Lancet.
  • 2005 : The WHO launches its world campaign for patient safety. The globalization of the strategy employing alcohol-based handrub is its spearhead.
  • 2006 : The formula for the handrub solution is made public. Patent-free, it can be produced at cost price in all the countries of the world, using local resources.
  • At present, 170 of the 193 member states of the United Nations have joined the campaign, which covers 80% of the world population.

Read more about the book here.