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First column

It is my pleasure to be invited to write this first editorial for the launch of the new revised MICKS website. It is a pleasure for a number of reasons. Firstly, I have had a long association with Moraine Corporation in providing educational support to practitioners within Japan, secondly, it provides me with a platform and an arena to support healthcare practitioners in their infection control practice and education and lastly, never has there been a more important time to be raising the profile of infection control than the present with the many challenges that face practitioners internationally in terms of infections and infectious diseases. I have been involved in infection control practice, and more recently infection control education, for many years in the UK and am recognised internationally for my work in supporting and facilitating infection control education in many countries.

I welcome this development of the MICKS website by Moraine Corporation and hope that I can contribute to providing you with current up to date information on infection control and current issues facing healthcare practice worldwide. Increasingly, within Europe and within other parts of the world, infection prevention and control is becoming regarded as increasingly significant and central in the provision of safe, quality healthcare. Furthermore, patients are now demanding better standards and more transparency in the way we as professionals manage and prevent infectious diseases and infections within healthcare and community settings.

Critical to the improvement of infection control practice is the development of the knowledge and skills of practitioners. Providing practitioners with appropriate education and skills training will enable patients to experience high quality care and also reduce any potential risks of infection whilst in hospital or any healthcare setting. Within the UK infection prevention and control is very much in the forefront of media attention with many newspapers and TV programmes addressing the many concerns that the public have with regards to a number of issues, such as resistant organisms, MRSA, healthcare associated infections, Avian flu and Clostridium Difficile, to name but a few. I, in my role as an infection control educationalist need to ensure that infection control courses and seminars are provided which are pertinent for practitioners to deal with and manage these challenges.

Over the next few months it is my intention to address many of these challenges in this short editorial in order to stimulate thought, debate and also to allow practitioners to question practice, procedures and policies to ensure that they are 'fit for purpose' and also evidence based. Many of these current infection challenges are not just Japanese problems but are worldwide with many international bodies such as the World Health Organisation are publishing global strategies on how these infections should be managed.

A significant challenge for any infection control practitioner is healthcare associated infections which are infections that are transmitted to patients (and healthcare workers) as a result of healthcare procedures in hospitals or other healthcare settings. In recent years there has been a significant increase in the awareness of HCAIs and particularly those that are caused by antibiotic resistant organisms or generally referred to by the public as 'superbugs'. A large proportion of an infection control teams' time is spent dealing and managing these infections in order to ensure patient safety and reduce risk. This important issue together with the role of the healthcare environment will form part of a discussion in a later issue of MICKS where there will be discussion on how the healthcare environment should be decontaminated in order to ensure patients and healthcare staff are not at risk.

Other important international issues facing infection control practitioners is the rise of resistant organisms. Anti-microbial resistance continues to pose a threat to individual health and the healthcare system globally. Current evidence suggests that hospitals as well as long term care facilities around the world are fighting a losing battle against the increasing rise of antibiotic resistant organisms such as Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). Accordingly to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention it has been estimated that 60-80,000 patients die each year due to nosocomial, (hospital acquired) infections, and 40,000 of these infections are diagnosed as MRSA. It has also been estimated that in long term care facilities 30% of patients are colonised with MRSA. However in Europe there are a large number of other resistant organisms that are continuing to present increasing problems such as vancomycin resistant enterococcus, multidrug resistant tuberculosis and also glycopeptide resistant enterococcal infections, particularly bloodstream infections which have seen a significant increase in the last few years in the UK.

With all these challenges facing the provision of healthcare throughout the world it is imperative that healthcare practitioners are provided with appropriate knowledge, skills and educational programmes so that they are equipped to deal with them. Therefore future editions of MICKS will briefly discuss some of these and will suggest ways in which global and international policies can effectively deal with them.

Best Wishes

John

University of Wales
Dr. John Gammon
Profile


Dr Gammon is recognised as an international authority on infection prevention and control. Currently, he is a Non -Executive Director of Carmarthenshire NHS Hospital Trust and Deputy Head of the School of Health Science, at Swansea University, Wales, UK. He has practiced as an infection control practitioner for many years and been instrumental in Wales in establishing infection control services. Furthermore he has lead on the establishment infection control courses, and national guidance on hospital and community infection prevention strategies. He has been central to the development of, evidence based, international guidance on patient isolation. His research interests include patient isolation, standard precautions and hand decontamination. He has published a number of research papers and continues to advise the Welsh Government on infection control practice and strategy. He acts as key advisor to a number of commercial companies involved in infection control. His focus of academic interest for the last few years has been the education and professional development of practitioners and specifically infection control practitioners. This has included e-learning course as well as Masters programmes in infection control.