Global healthcare needs infection control reform, say experts

Monday, 01 June, 2020

Global healthcare needs infection control reform, say experts

World leaders in infection control and disease prevention convened online at the inaugural iClean 2020 conference on 28 May to discuss innovative infection control reform in hospitals and aged-care facilities in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

Keynote speaker Professor Didier Pittet* said there has never been a more pertinent time to address infection control in our healthcare systems.

“During this devastating COVID-19 pandemic, up to one in five people who contracted the virus globally are healthcare workers, and we saw similar numbers in the SARs and MERS outbreaks.

“Furthermore, aged-care residents accounted for 29% of COVID-19-related deaths in Australia, and this rate is even higher in Europe, the United States and the United Kingdom, who have been hardest hit by the pandemic,” Professor Pittet said.

“We are therefore calling for urgent reform in our approach to cleaning and disinfection in hospitals and aged-care homes.”

Professor Pittet explained that Clean Hospitals — an initiative aiming to create better procedures, training, auditing and management processes — would allow cleaning and infection control managers around the world to improve quality and outcomes.

Dr Ruth Carrico**, who also presented at the iClean 2020 conference, said, “Reforming hospital and aged-care disinfection systems can not only help to continue to manage COVID-19, but also reduce the incidence of other hospital and aged-care facility-acquired infections.

“We need to look at hospitals and aged-care facilities as a ‘patient’ that requires a cohesive and interdependent team to care for it.

“While in some ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed flaws in the way we control infection, it has also provided an opportunity for us to reform these systems to better manage future outbreaks,” Dr Carrico said.

According to the System Director of EVS, Safety and Security at Northside Hospital, Atlanta, Fiona Nemetz, providing comprehensive education and training to environmental services teams is just as critical as providing these services for healthcare workers.

“Ensuring that all teams that make up the hospital infection control system are armed with the knowledge and tools to continue to effectively do their job will help to reassure both workers and the public that the hospital is a safe place to be,” Nemetz said.

According to Interclean Group Managing Director Bill Bassett, “Insights from digital cleaning data and advances in our understanding of disinfection has led to significant changes in the way we can plan, monitor, adapt and implement cleaning processes.

“By improving/facilitating access to the latest innovations in cleaning systems, equipment and technology, and fostering international collaboration, we hope to arm hospitals and aged-care facilities with the necessary tools to safeguard patients, residents and employees against future outbreaks,” he said.

*Chair, Clean Hospitals, Director of the Infection Control Programme and World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre on Patient Safety at the University of Geneva Hospitals, Switzerland.
**Professor and Family Nurse Practitioner in the Division of Infectious Diseases, and Clinical Director of the Global Health Center Vaccine and International Travel at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, USA.

Image credit: ©

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