Infections acquired in the hospital environment: A threat to your loved ones

They include a GCC infection control conference and an infection control course designed and conducted by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA).
The five-day events, to be opened in Riyadh on Oct. 17, will be attended by a panel of international experts as well as delegates from the Kingdom’s medical world.
Dr. Hanan H. Balkhy, director of the WHO Collaborating Center and GCC Center for Infection Control, said that the GCC infection control meeting would highlight topics on emerging antimicrobial resistance from a global and regional perspective.
“The event will also speak about important infections acquired in the healthcare environment and some of the most important emerging fevers in the Arabian Peninsula,” said Balkhy, who works as an executive director for infection prevention and control at King Abdul Aziz Medical City.
Balkhy said that the infection control course would address important topics relevant to infection prevention, hospital epidemiologists and healthcare staff involved in patient safety.
International and local experts will provide interactive sessions on infection control precautions, related infections, surveillance and the accreditation process.
Attendees will also hear from experts on relevant topics such as waste management, monitoring construction in a healthcare setting and occupational health issues.
She pointed out that more and more sophisticated medical procedures are taking place every day.
Advancements in treating cancer patients and organ failure patients with new medicines or organ transplants, which would allow for a longer healthy life, has made the medicine world a fascinating field, added Balkhy, who is professionally a consultant pediatrician for infectious diseases.
Balkhy said that neonatologists were now supporting babies born at barely 500 grams, while the life expectancy has exceeded 75 years in many countries.
“By doing all these wonders in medicine, we have created a vulnerable population that needs continuous care and prolonged and repeated contact with the healthcare system,” she said.
Healthcare associated infections (HAIs) have also evolved over the past decades as an important challenge for patient safety, she observed.
She said that another group of vulnerable patients are those who have undergone some sort of surgical procedure followed an unexpected infection to a wound they have suffered.
The World Health Organization, she said, has made HAIs and infection control its primary patient safety challenge.
“We all remember the efforts conducted to improve hand hygiene initiated by the WHO in 2005, and the Kingdom was a major partner in that effort,” she said.
Such awareness on hand hygiene, according to Balkhy, was beneficial to the public and patients during the swine flu pandemic last year.
Improving hand hygiene, however, is not the only way of preventing the spread of infections, she said.
She recalled that the UK battled the spread of the well-known superbug MRSA a decade ago. In fact, it is a pathogen that has been known for a very long time to cause infections in humans, she said. She warned that newer bugs with novel resistance patterns are continuing to emerge. In December 2009 a common bug with a novel and very resistant character was detected in India — Klebsiella pneumonia carrying the New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase gene.
Since then it has been detected in Pakistan, England, the United States and Japan, she said.

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