The three (3) day Castries meeting was facilitated by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and focused on strengthening the abilities of Eastern Caribbean countries to develop core competencies on Infection Prevention and Control and Hospital Acquired Infection surveillance for IPC Focal Points and Epidemiologist focal points for Hospital Acquired Infection surveillance at the National level (Ministry of Health). Learning methods included hospital related outbreak exercises and presentations from various countries and facilitators.
Participants at the meeting represented eighteen (18) countries in the Region. Mrs. Sutton was recently identified as the first National Focal Point for infection control in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Turks and Caicos Islands hospital infection control officer Mrs. Subrena Forbes-Pedican was also in attendance along with four other colleagues from the TCI hospital.
According to WHO 2018, “Healthcare associated infections (HAI) represent a major burden and safety issues for patients in the developing world, and the Americas”.
Patients can become impacted by hospital related infections as a result of prolong hospital stays. Hospital related infections can create long-term disabilities, increase resistance to antimicrobials (antibiotics), represent a massive additional financial burden for health systems, and generate high cost. Since the 1940s, antibiotics have greatly reduced a variety of illnesses from simple skin and ear infections to life-threatening blood stream infections. However, these drugs have been used so widely and for so long that the bacteria that the antibiotics are designed to kill have adapted to them, making the drugs less effective – this is called antibiotic resistance. According to WHO, Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.
To combat antimicrobial resistance, the Ministry of Health, Agriculture, Sports and Human Services (MoHASHS) has been working on a national action plan which will seek to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance, strengthen knowledge through surveillance and research, reduce the incidence of infection, improve the use of antimicrobial agents and develop an economic case for sustainable investment of new medicines, diagnostic tools, vaccines and other interventions. This is a very significant step on a national level in the “fight” to prevent and control healthcare related infections.
As of December 2017, eighteen (18) countries in the Americas had been evaluated for infection prevention and control practices, twelve (12) of these countries had a national IPC program in place and ten (10) had a hospital associated mandatory surveillance in place.” (WHO, 2018).
Next steps for the Ministry of Health, TCI:
- In collaboration with stakeholders develop a national Infection prevention and control (IPC) policy
- Develop promotional materials on IPC methods
- Conduct training workshops and meetings to build capacities for IPC nationally
- Inclusion in webinar’s sessions on IPC internationally
For More information please contact Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit at 338-2772.