The cause

Nosocomial infections are diseases acquired during treatment. They decimate 16 million patients worldwide each year. Disinfecting hands with a hydroalcoholic solution halves the number of infections, and thus the number of victims.

Since 2005, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been leading a global campaign to make this system an international standard of care. To date, 170 of the 194 UN member states have joined the movement. They appear in red on the map.


  • Global impact
    Every day, at least 500,000 people worldwide contract a nosocomial infection. 20,000 to 50,000 die.
  • Comparison
    Nosocomial infections kill more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
  • In the West
    Nosocomial infections are the second leading cause of death, on a par with stroke.
  • USA
    200,000 people die every year. The equivalent of a 747 crash every day.
  • France
    770’000 French people contract a nosocomial infection every year. 40,000 are deadly.
  • Switzerland
    The number of people affected is estimated at 70,000 per year. 2,000 people die.

Significant events

  • 1992: Didier Pittet calculates that with soap and water, a caregiver should wash his hands 22 to 44 minutes per hour to avoid contaminating his patients.
  • 1993: In his hospital, he replaces hand washing in the sink with disinfection with hydroalcoholic solution, which kills 99.9% of bacteria in a few seconds.
  • 1995: It shows that the introduction of this new strategy has reduced the number of infections, and therefore the number of victims, by 50%.
  • 2000: Publication of these results in the scientific magazine The Lancet.
  • 2005: WHO launches its global campaign for patient safety. The globalization of the strategy based on the hydro-alcoholic solution is its spearhead.
  • 2006: The solution formula is made public. Free of patents, it can be manufactured at cost by any country in the world from local resources.
    To date, 170 of the 194 UN member states have joined the campaign, which covers 80% of the world’s population.