‘Ventilation key to infection control’

At risk: Poor ventilation outlets and blocked windows cause infections to spread in hospitals.

At risk: Poor ventilation outlets and blocked windows cause infections to spread in hospitals.   | Photo Credit: VIVEK PRAKASH


Patients should not get infected within hospital setting: expert

Poor ventilation outlets, windows blocked with odd articles, and glass covers over windows are a common scene in hospitals in the country. However, according to experts, these are classic examples of how infections spread in hospitals.

“Infection control is not a recent principle. Way back in 1863, Florence Nightingale in her notes clearly highlighted that it is the most important principle of a hospital. She said when a patient is visiting a hospital, we should ensure that the patient should not get infected within the hospital setting,” said Dr. Rajesh Deshmukh, public health specialist, TB, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Deshmukh was speaking at a seminar on ‘Changing paradigm in infectious diseases’ at Nanavati Hospital on Wednesday.

He recalled a shocking incident in 2005 in South Africa’s Tugela Ferry town, where 53 people were diagnosed with drug-resistant TB (XDR TB) and 52 of them died within an average of 16 days after they sought treatment. “Research showed that many Tugela Ferry patients were infected with XDR-TB in healthcare settings,” said Dr. Deshmukh.

The incident prioritised the need for infection control in India and globally, he said. “Just imagine if this had happened in India, what will be the gravity?”

Dr. Deshmukh highlighted the guidelines drawn by the Central TB Division such as setting up multidrug-resistant TB wards away from other wards, providing adequate ventilation (natural or assisted), leaving at least six feet of space between two adjacent beds, promoting cough hygiene using signages, training patients and staff, and providing masks to patients. “Most drug-resistant TB centres in India have now started following these guidelines,” he said. Often TB centres are set up close to the autopsy room and providing proper ventilation is challenging in such a setting, he said.

“Natural ventilation remains a key component of infection control. If you see old British-era constructions, you will find bilateral ventilation and high ceilings,” he said. Dr. Deshmukh also emphasised the need for community infection control. He cited an example of his trip to Melghat, where he went looking for a drug-resistant TB patient and found him travelling in a vehicle crammed with over 20 people. “Community infections control continues to be a huge challenge,” Dr. Deshmukh said.

The seminar also saw Dr. Abhay Satoskar, professor and vice-chair, division of experimental pathology at Ohio State University, talk about the trials for a vaccine to combat leishmaniasis, a parasite transmitted by a sandfly. “The disease causes over 70,000 deaths annually, but the death rate could be much higher,” said Dr. Satoskar, who has been awarded a grant for the first phase of human trials.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 12:50:04 AM |

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