To whom it may concern!
With this open letter I would especially like to address the heads of the sterilization departments in countries and regions where there are not yet any national/regional sterilization societies. This is an appeal to them to take up a broader responsibility which transcends the confines of their own department, to position sterilization in a national/regional framework and to take the initiative to establish a national/regional society. Without in any way detracting from the merits of a large number of departmental heads it is certainly appropriate that the academic world too is involved in such an initiative, actively participates in it and perhaps even takes the lead. Its intellectual responsibility should be taken in this domain as well and transferred into practice. The importance of an initiative for the safety and health of the patient really cannot be overestimated as has been repeatedly proven. Sterilization too has to provide an 'optimal' contribution to infection prevention in order to sever the link between the department and hospital infections.
National and regional sterilization societies have a prominent part to play in this regard. Firstly of course for internal use: by organizing study days and congresses, by setting up training courses for staff members at all levels, by collaborating with national authorities in the drafting of recommendations for sterilization they can make a substantial contribution to a better national practice. Moreover, a society can collect, interpret and disseminate widely dispersed scientific information. Knowledge is essential for a rational practice and a conditio sine qua non for the delivery of an end product of a high quality. The level of knowledge in a department is in other words directly related to the quality produced. Without knowledge and the effort of keeping this knowledge up-to-date no progress is possible. Without progress the safety of the patient and the future of the sterilization is put at great risk. Secondly, societies are important because they can make and maintain external contacts. This is not unimportant because a number of studies have indicated that innovation results amongst others from contacts with other, domestic and foreign, innovative organisations. These contacts allow the department to situate itself on the international sterilization ladder. In this way too progress and innovation are stimulated.
Progress and innovation are primarily aimed at providing a medical device of a high quality to the provider of care and to the patient. This is a basic right of every patient. Moreover, one should not lose sight of the fact that a first class sterilization department can also make a substantial contribution to saving costs through the correct management and maintenance of medical instruments. Investing in good sterilization should therefore be a priority for each hospital.
The overlap we share with other technical and medical services differentiates us from a number of other disciplines. The combination of aspects of technology, pharmaceutical sciences, microbiology, chemistry and hospital hygiene underscores the multidisciplinary nature of our working environment which consequently is extremely varied and gripping.
A society can bring all these elements together and thus create the necessary synergy and symbiosis. A society for sterilization is the key element in a good national practice. We hope that this appeal will be positively received and will contribute to the taking of initiatives which will make it possible to found sterilization societies in countries where they do not yet exist. We wish you lots of success. It speaks for itself that the World Forum for Hospital Sterile Supply is prepared to provide any assistance you may require.
Bruges, 22 September 2008