International Infection Prevention Week 2011, 16 -21 October


International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW) 2011, 16-21 October

The need for collaboration globally has never been more important with the unpredictability of outbreaks of infectious diseases, increasing antibiotic/antimicrobial resistance causing healthcare associated infections and the inevitable panic and confusion that follow. With widespread human travel and importation of foodstuffs outbreaks that commence in one country quickly become a European or international problem and often failure to track down the source of the problem only emphasises the communication issues that abound and undermine public confidence Leading on from the last IIP Week in October 2010 we all breathed a sigh of relief as it was announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) that H1N1 influenza had moved into the post-pandemic period. With greater shared knowledge globally, synergy is achieved and development of vaccination programmes and this shared knowledge enabled us to approach the influenza season winter 2010/11 with more optimism.

Globally pandemic influenza was not the only outbreak during this period and below just some of the highlights in infectious disease outbreaks throughout 2010/11:

  • Cholera and polio in several countries continued to have devastating effects and avian influenza was also present in several countries such as Egypt and Indonesia. In February 2011 more than 700,000 people were vaccinated against yellow fever in the recent emergency vaccination campaign in Côte d'Ivoire led by the Ministry of Health with support from WHO and UNICEF.
  • As of 18 April 2011, 33 countries in Europe had reported more than 6 500 measles cases and epidemiological investigations and genotyping confirmed transmission of measles virus among several countries in the Region and to the Americas.
  • In May 2011 an outbreak of severe illness caused concern in Germany, where 3 women died and 276 cases of haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) had been reported since the second week of May. By mid May ten countries had reported cases to WHO/Europe and a widespread investigation was underway. Following several false starts which caused prolonged economic turmoil and most of us to change our eating habits by the 14th July there had been fewer new cases of Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) and bloody diarrhoea (VTEC or EHEC infection, caused by E. coli O104) in Germany and other European countries and the source of the outbreak appeared to be confirmed.
  • At the end of July and into August a multi-agency investigation established a link between a batch of imported eggs and an outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis Phage Type (PT) 14b infection in England and Wales.
These outbreaks demonstrate how quickly and easily problems can and do travel either by human carriage or imported food and highlight the work that international organisations do and the importance of communication and collaboration globally.

Of course for many staff working in infection prevention the daily problems of keeping patients safe and protected from infection are much closer to home While infection prevention specialist battle with prevention of and surveillance of healthcare associated infection, new resistance in previously ‘everyday’ organisms (carbapenem resistance and NDM-1) (Acinetobacter baumannii) continue to cause new challenges and require new techniques to keep patients safe from infection and this is why we are including a section on ‘Important clinical issues for 2011/2012’ to update the evidence base behind practice in these areas

Aims & Objectives

RCN European event

We are taking the opportunity this year to focus on the global collaboration that drives our infection prevention practice locally, nationally and internationally – we will include key national, and international documents that you need to be aware of and which influence the way you work now in 2011/12 and beyond, explain the global network of authority within the United Nations system and the European agency who work with national health protection bodies across Europe as well as the Health Departments who lead health and well being for the devolved Governments as a reminder of the importance of keeping our eye on the ‘bigger picture’ With this in mind we highlight important clinical issues for 2011/2012.

Collaboration brings strength and we draw attention to the information available from organisations and associations whose main aim is to promote and support your evidence based infection prevention practice. We are also joining forces with our international colleagues to help promote professional excellence and to highlight educational opportunities available during this important week.

Aims and Objectives of International Infection Prevention and Control Week 2011:

  • To encourage infection prevention and control professionals to support and apply the principles of best practice found in key influencing documents, local, national and international (where relevant), policy and guidance, in their daily practice
  • To help ensure that staff working within the diverse healthcare environment and patients homes are aware of the global drivers behind their role, accountability and responsibility in helping to prevent and control healthcare associated infection and communicable diseases.
  • Through awareness of key influencing documents, to encourage staff to acknowledge that infection recognises no boundaries and to renew the commitment to joint working in the interest of the wider community, including national and international influences.
  • To provide an overview of the important clinical issues which will require highlighting to staff, managers, patients and the general public during winter 2011/2012 and subsequent specialist intervention.
  • To signpost infection prevention and control professionals towards resources that are patient centred to encourage inclusion not exclusion of patients and/or clients in their infection prevention practice