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Organising an awareness week to target hand hygiene practice.

Since Ignac Semmelweis, a Hungarian obstetrician, observed in 1847 that handwashing reduced the number of deaths from puerperal fever (Semmelweis, 1983), the importance of washing hands before patient contact has been recognised by health professionals worldwide. The practice is central to efforts to reduce spread of infection and has clearly demonstrated efficacy in infection control (Infection Control Nurses Association, 1998).

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