Improving Health Provider Hand Hygiene

19 Submissions
$30,000 USD
Due:  2nd Jul 2024

Challenge overview


The International Rescue Committee (IRC), the Seeker for this Wazoku Crowd Challenge, is looking for existing technologies & solutions or innovative designs & concepts to increase compliance with hand hygiene and overcome supply chain issues in healthcare environments.

The World Health Organization’s 5 moments for hand hygiene keep patients safe by reducing the risk of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). However, in healthcare settings the world over, adherence to the 5 moments for hand hygiene is not perfectly observed – and solely behavioral approaches have not proved effective. Staff move from patient to patient, running water often cannot be accessed easily or at all, and sanitizer/gloves are resources that must be replenished or replaced.

Your novel technological designs or already-available solutions will help the IRC and other worldwide actors to improve hand hygiene compliance, reduce HAIs, and improve patient outcomes. In this Challenge, there are particular cost constraints: already-existing solutions should cost no more than 25 USD per healthcare worker per year, and novel technologies, solutions, or designs have a cost constraint of 66 USD per healthcare worker per year.

There is a total award pool of $30,000, with Solvers being able to win with their solutions for improving hand hygiene effectiveness, compliance, and adherence in each of these two categories:

  1. Novel designs and innovative solutions – $15,000 pool
  2. or Existing technologies and solutions - $15,000 pool

This Prize Challenge requires a written proposal to be submitted. Awards will be contingent upon the theoretical evaluation of the proposal by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and evaluators.

To receive an Award for this Prize Challenge, Solvers are required to transfer non-exclusive rights to the Intellectual Property (IP) in their proposed solution. Solvers will retain all rights to any proposal not Awarded.


WIN Scouts are very much invited to participate, this being any Solver who can propose a potentially suitable partner (startup or expert) from your network. As a WIN Scout, by referring a relevant partner you will be recognized with a share of a separate $1,000 recognition award if your referral meets certain minimum criteria of detail, relevance, and format. The input required is guided during the submission process for WIN Scouts below.

Wazoku welcomes WIN Scouts and referred partners to become active members of Wazoku Innovation Networks (WIN).


In this Prize Challenge, Solvers may:

  • Submit ideas of their own.
  • Submit third-party information that they have the right to use and further, the authority to convey to the Seeker this right with the right to use and develop derivative works.
  • Submit information considered in the public domain without any limitations on use.


Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on July 02, 2024.

- Login or register your interest to start solving and scouting!



The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is a global humanitarian aid, relief, and development nongovernmental organization. Working in more than 40 countries and over 20 U.S. cities, the IRC helps those affected by humanitarian crises to survive, recover, and rebuild their lives.

IRC’s Airbel Impact Lab aims to find and advance breakthrough solutions, delivering them at scale – with an emphasis on solutions that can shape policy and practice around the world and not only in local contexts.   

The IRC is supported in this project by SeaFreight Labs (, an open-innovation consultancy using global challenges to cost-effectively deliver breakthrough innovation. Participation in this project is a direct result of SeaFreight Labs membership in the Pledge 1% movement.


The employees of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), as well as their spouses or partners and their relatives up to the fourth degree, are not eligible for awards in this Challenge.


WIN Scouts are very much invited to participate, this being any Solver who can propose a potentially suitable partner (startup or expert) from your network.

Find out more about participation in Wazoku Crowd Challenges.



Healthcare-associated Infections (HAIs) are an ongoing problem in healthcare environments the world over, with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating that roughly 1 in 10 patients who access health services are likely to get a HAI.

Hand hygiene, or the practice of washing and sanitizing the hands and wrists, is an important part of healthcare delivery and to combat HAIs. This can be completed with proper handwashing technique (using soap and water for at least 20 seconds) or the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol content), and hand hygiene is recommended even alongside the use of medical gloves (before putting them on and after removing) to reduce potential contamination.

Cleaning their hands helps healthcare professionals to properly remove dirt, germs, pathogens, or anything that may affect their ability to provide care. Hand hygiene as a practice is important even with the availability of medical gloves and hand sanitizer, to support healthcare workers no matter where they are – from mobile medical units to the operating room.

The WHO 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene is an important behavioral campaign introduced worldwide for increased patient safety. These are a stated list of five check-ins where providers must perform hand hygiene:

  • Before touching a patient
  • Before clean/aseptic procedures
  • After body fluid exposure risk
  • After touching a patient
  • After touching patient surroundings

This strategy works both ways – protecting both patients and healthcare workers and promoting a cleaner, more sanitary healthcare environment. In all countries with relevant data, hand hygiene practices are known to be important but are performed with varying levels of compliance. Gathered from WHO research, approximately 70% of healthcare workers and 50% of surgical teams do not routinely practice hand hygiene.

This lack of compliance could be broken up into both individual and structural reasons: access & convenience, supply chain, and behavioral concerns.

Access & Convenience: in many facilities, running water may not be available. Where it is available in tanks or buckets, this may be located far from patient rooms – meaning health providers must walk away to search for hand hygiene methods that may or may not be available. Those practicing care in Mobile Medical Units (MMUs) or similar decentralized locations may find their experience with hand hygiene further constrained by the urgency of the care they provide and the size/space of their working environments.

Supply chain: replenishing and replacing hand sanitizer stocks and/or glove inventory is a supply and cost concern in many healthcare environments worldwide. While medical gloves are intended to be single-use, their scarcity has often led to use on more than one patient. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is often imported, heavy to ship, and expensive.

Behavior: by which we mean continued and sustained actions, not necessarily conscious bad behavior. Despite the knowledge of the importance of hand hygiene, even in daily lives, people complete hand hygiene less often or less carefully than they should. Behavioral concerns with regards to hand hygiene in healthcare environments must be squared with access and convenience issues, to ensure that hand hygiene methods are not only made available but encouraged, supported, and made more easy to complete. The WHO ‘5 Moments’ campaign and similar behavioral posters to encourage hand hygiene have not been proven to significantly affect the adherence and compliance by healthcare workers.

Solutions that utilize behavioral insights should take into account the conscious and nonconscious drivers of human behavior as related to hand hygiene compliance to address barriers to decision-making and encourage people to follow through with practicing hand hygiene.

Increased hand hygiene compliance could prevent up to 50% of healthcare-associated infections, according to the WHO. Improving the frequency, methods, and behaviors by which healthcare practitioners wash their hands would have significant, direct impacts on public health and patient wellbeing.


The Challenge

Could you help to reduce HAIs and create safer and better healthcare environments worldwide?

Solvers are asked to submit novel designs/innovative solution concepts or existing technologies and applied solutions to increase hand hygiene in healthcare environments the world over. Any solution should support behavioral change, whether the submission consists of existing technologies to sanitize hands and support hand hygiene, or novel designs, concepts, and solutions to solve the problem of hand hygiene compliance and adherence.

The IRC delivers health support in existing facilities and in emergency settings through established mobile medical units (MMUs). These units are usually makeshift with no access to essential infrastructure for hand hygiene. Any proposed technology or solution should address and enable the practice of hand hygiene in the absence of infrastructure like water supply and functional supply chain for consumables. For all proposed solutions, please focus on methods that directly influence healthcare workers’ behavior: technologies and solutions must also consider how it will affect behavior change at the scale required, not only the effectiveness of the hand hygiene.

It is estimated that each healthcare worker has a maximum of 8 hand hygiene opportunities in an hour, and requires at least 2 liters of liquid hand soap and hand sanitizer per month to effectively maintain hand hygiene compliance. This estimate excludes infrastructure needs (running water presence and easy access).

The State of the World’s Hand Hygiene report draws on a recent study by WHO and UNICEF that estimated that achieving hand hygiene for all households in 46 of the least-developed countries of the world by 2030 would cost a total of $11 billion USD. This is equivalent to 25 USD per capita per year on promotion efforts, and 66 USD per capita per year on improved handwashing facilities.

Therefore, your proposed solution will need to cost a maximum of 25 USD per year per healthcare worker for already-existing and proven efforts and solutions, and a maximum 66 USD per year per healthcare worker for novel solutions, technologies, or hand hygiene facility improvements. For further context, in the areas that the IRC has a presence, the average number of healthcare workers at a primary health unit is 7, and the minimum number of healthcare workers for a secondary health facility will be 50. Primary health units are lower-level facilities/clinics (usually at a community level) and provide most services except surgery (in most cases). Secondary health units are hospitals.

Solvers solutions, regardless of category, should consist of effective approaches for both the compliance and adherence of hand hygiene processes – ensuring these methods have significant uptake as well as significant long-term practice by healthcare professionals.

Any proposed solution to this Challenge must also take into account cost and value for money. The IRC is looking for solutions that could be used anywhere in the world, but particularly for low-resource contexts. Solvers are asked to provide effective, functional solutions that require little replenishment or replacing. Where possible, please detail any and all costs associated with your proposal, in order to reach the maximum 25 USD (per person per year) for already-existing and proven solutions or the maximum 66 USD (per person per year) for novel solutions, technologies, and concepts.


Solvers are asked to provide information about solutions and approaches to improve hand hygiene compliance and adherence in health environments. These could take the form of novel designs and innovative solutions, already-existing or proven technologies that could meet the requirements, or WIN Scout submissions detailing referred organizations or individuals who could help solve the problem.

Novel designs or innovative solutions: Solvers must be able to explain the feasibility of their proposal, including potential steps to implementation. While out-of-the-box thinking is encouraged, the IRC program may be supported by other worldwide actors, meaning that any novel solutions must be acceptable to different contexts and communities.

Existing approaches and proven solutions: The IRC welcomes information around adjacent/analogous technologies and solutions already-used for similar practices in other sectors that could affect hand hygiene compliance and adherence.

WIN Scout submissions detailing referred organizations or individuals: Solvers are encouraged to inform the IRC of potential organizational partners or individuals who could help to solve the problem, with more details available in the Overview.

When estimating value for money or return on investment, please use the standard measurement of estimated cost-per-healthcare worker to standardize comparison – whether your solution is static and embedded into infrastructure and used widely, a behavioral change program, or an innovative technology used by an individual.

Your solution, whether a novel technology or design or existing and already-implemented solution, should consider the following must-have solution requirements:

  • Effectiveness – your submission detailing a solution/design, behavioral approach, or existing technology/solution should enable healthcare workers to sanitize their hands at the 5 WHO-recommended moments.


With all categories of solutions, you should detail how it supports work to reduce the risk of HAIs in health environments by improving hand hygiene compliance (that it is performed) and adherence (that it is performed over time) by healthcare workers.

  • Value for money – please note all costs associated with your submission, described in terms of cost-per-healthcare worker (to provide standardized comparisons). If your solution is an existing or proven technology, please submit details that show it does not exceed the maximum of 25 USD per healthcare worker per year. If your solution is of a novel solution, technology, or concept, please submit details to show your submission does not exceed the maximum of 66 USD per healthcare worker per year.

    If you are unable to directly provide cost details for any reason, please estimate the cost impact for e.g. a hospital of 100 persons, and then divide any costs to achieve the cost-per-healthcare worker.
  • Accessibility – your submission should improve the ability of healthcare providers to meet the WHO 5 Moments for hand hygiene, in environments without water and other resources, without supply chain or accessibility concerns. This submission should take into account the low-resource contexts of many health environments.
  • Convenience – in order to achieve lasting change to hand hygiene, your solution must be used time and again - not just on initial uptake. Please note in your submission the ease, convenience, and emphasis on usage over time of your solution.
  • Behavioral elements – for any solution to be effective, regardless of category, it must be able to affect healthcare workers’ long-term compliance and adherence to hand hygiene. Please state in your submission how your technology not only enables hand hygiene but encourages and reminds healthcare workers as well.

Additionally, your submission can also consider the following nice-to-have criteria:

  • Possibility to measure hand hygiene compliance
    • Innovative methods to measure hand hygiene compliance using the WHO 5 Moments;
    • and/or novel ways to display where health workers may have ‘missed’ areas of their hands and wrists for hand hygiene.


Things to Avoid

Please note: the IRC is not interested in solutions that solely require the use of chemicals.

The IRC is interested in solutions that are easy for health providers to take up and fit into their routines. We are not interested in solely behavioral elements such as posters and messaging around hand-washing, as these have not been shown to lead to behaviour change and are not relevant to situations in which soap and water are not accessible.

The IRC is also less interested in solutions that would require constant replacing or replenishing. Part of this Challenge’s background is the difficulty in supply chain and cost concerns, so solutions submitted that detail quick, single-use products or technologies are not likely to be awarded in this Challenge. Solvers are encouraged to think about sustainability and long-term usage of their solutions for hand hygiene.


Solutions with Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) 1-9 are invited.

This Prize Challenge has the following features:

  1. Your IP Rights are protected in this Prize Challenge; the International Rescue Committee (IRC) must award you to obtain them.
  2. The best solution(s) in this Prize Challenge have the opportunity to win from the award pool of $30,000 USD for meeting all solution requirements, as solely determined by the IRC.
  3. Solvers are able to win with their solutions for improving hand hygiene compliance in each of these two categories:
    1. Novel designs and innovative solutions – $15,000 pool;
    2. or Existing technologies, solutions, and potential partners - $15,000 pool.
  4. The award distribution will be determined after theoretical evaluation of the proposals by the IRC and evaluators against the Solution Requirements.
  5. To receive an Award for this Prize Challenge, Solvers are required to transfer non-exclusive rights to the Intellectual Property (IP) in their solution. Solvers will retain all rights to any proposal not awarded.
  6. WIN Scouts are invited to participate by IRC, this being any Solver who can propose a potentially suitable partner (startup or individual) from your network. As a WIN Scout, by referring a relevant partner you will be recognized with a share of a separate $1,000 recognition award if your referral meets certain minimum criteria of detail, relevance, and format. The input required is guided during the submission process for WIN Scouts below.
  7. IRC may also issue “Honorable Mention” recognitions for notable submissions that are not selected for monetary awards.
  8. IRC may wish to partner with the Solver at the conclusion of the Challenge. Please indicate your interest in partnering.
  9. The IRC will make awarded solutions freely available to other non-profit and for-profit organizations to help improve hand hygiene compliance and adherence by healthcare workers worldwide.


Please login and register your interest to complete the submission form.

The submitted proposals must be written in English and in your submission form response and attachments, you should include:


  1. Participation type – you will be asked to inform us how you are participating in this challenge, as a Solver (Individual), Solver (Team), Solver (Organization), or WIN Scout (submission uses an alternative form).
  2. Category of solution – please choose either category 1 (novel designs and innovative solutions), or category 2 (existing technologies, solutions, and potential partners).

    Please note: if you want to submit connected ideas in multiple categories, please submit separate submissions with each one’s category clearly marked and indicate in the submissions that they are related.
  3. Solution Level - please confirm the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of your proposal: TRL1-3 ideation, TRL4-6 proof of concept, TRL7-9 production ready.
  4. Problem & Opportunity - highlight the innovation in your approach to the Problem, its point of difference, and the specific advantages/benefits this brings (up to 500 words).
  5. Solution Overview – Please ensure that you describe the features of your proposal and how they address the SOLUTION REQUIREMENTS in the fields relevant to your category (up to 500 words).
  6. Experience - Expertise, use cases and skills you or your organization have in relation to your proposed solution. The IRC may wish to partner at the conclusion of the Challenge; please include a statement describing your expertise and indicating your interest in volunteering towards realizing your prototype solution (up to 500 words).
  7. Solution Risks - any risks you see with your solution and how you would plan for this (up to 500 words).
  8. Timeline, capability and costs - describe what you think is required to deliver the solution, estimated time and cost – please note the cost constraints of 25 USD per healthcare worker per year for already existing technologies/solutions and the cost constraint of 66 USD per healthcare worker per year for novel solutions, technologies, or concepts/designs. (up to 500 words).
  9. Online References - provide links to any publications, articles or press releases of relevance (up to 500 words).
  10. How did you find this Challenge? – please indicate what drew you to this Challenge, including any relevant advertising or marketing that you followed to this Challenge.


Wazoku encourages the use by Solvers of AI approaches to help develop their submissions, though any produced solely with generative AI are not of interest.

Find out more about participation in Wazoku Crowd Challenges.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on July 02, 2024.

Late submissions will not be considered.

Your submission will be evaluated by the evaluation team first reviewing the information and content you have submitted at the submission form, with attachments used as additional context to your form submission. Submissions relying solely on attachments will receive less attention from the evaluation team.

After the Challenge submission due date, the IRC will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to the winning solution(s) according to the timeline in the Challenge header. All Solvers who submit a proposal will be notified about the status of their submissions.

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Macrocompassion Macrocompassion

This reminds me of one of O’Henry’s stories about the hearty handshakes of the men of the Western States, which cause instant death to the hand-shake microbe. Perhaps disposable single-use tissue-papers that have been sanitized by impregnation with a dry disinfectant, would be made available and be less costly that the alternative rubber gloves or fresh-water, if it is not available.