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IDI - Irish Decontamination Institute

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WFHSS Conference 2010 - Lectures and Presentations - Opening Ceremony
Welcome Speech

by Wim Renders

Annual WFHSS and GORNA Conference 2009

July 30th to August 1st, 2010
The "Anhembi" Conventions Center, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Good morning ladies and gentlemen,

First and foremost I would like to cordially welcome you to the 11th Congress of the WFHSS. This year it is organized in cooperation with SOBECC. I would like to express my thanks to chairperson Janete Akamine and her team to organize the conference here, in South America. It is a privilege to be your guests and to be able to experience and enjoy the warm Brazilian hospitality. After our 10th Congress, last year in Crete, Greece, this conference is once again of historic significance to the WF. Indeed, it is actually the first time that the world congress takes place outside Europe. This demonstrates that "sterilization" does not stop at the borders of the old continent or of the new world and that also major developments are taking place outside it. Indeed borders fade away and disappear.

"Sterilization" has truly become globalised. We have to make use of this unique opportunity to join forces in other words to bring together the information, knowledge and knowhow we have at our disposal in order to distil the best sterilization practice. Together we have to define the "state-of-art" and together we have to set out on the road to implement it.

This brings the dream of the worldwide harmonization of sterilization practice a step closer to reality. This is not the effort of the gods - it is not a fairytale - but mainly the result of the commitment of ordinary people. This dream can only come true because in sterilization departments, all over the world, enthusiastic members of staff are working who, on a daily basis, are fully committed to providing sterilized instruments of a high quality. This dream can only come true because in sterilization associations, all over the world, enthusiastic members of staff are involved, day after day, in increasing the quality of their departments. Together they have brought about that sterilization, wherever in the world, is on the move. Sterilization is thanks to them, thanks to you, shedding the naive image the outside world has of it namely that of a department which occupies itself purely with the cleaning of instruments. It is developing into a discipline which is dedicated to the scientific and high-quality treatment of medical devices.

The centralization of the sterilization activities in the hospital has led to standardization and increased efficiency. The foundation of sterilization societies has enabled the transfer of information to the individual departments. International guidelines and norms have delineated the framework in which we have to operate. Congresses, study days, training courses and the concept of lifelong learning are continuously transforming information into knowledge. The rational, industrial approach of the processes and the introduction of quality systems has resulted in reproduceability.

All these developments have made of "sterilization" a discipline firmly anchored in the positive sciences. No longer obscurantism, superstition or voodoo hold it in their grip.

The increased effort, as is the case with other medical disciplines, to make "sterilization" evidence based can only speed up this process. Undoubtedly this is a consequence of the visionary insight of a few. Moreover, it is gratifying that universities are showing a growing interest in the CSSD. Fundamental and applied research can expose the risks of and the shortcomings in the decontamination process and can thus lead to the optimization of the sterilization practice.

A congress is the ideal intermediary between theory and practice. Quite justifiably the emphasis, apart from the presentation of the latest results of scientific research, is put on the way in which quality management systems are merged into the daily routine of the departments.

But a number of questions, quite rightfully, could and should be asked concerning the usefulness, the feasibility and the applicability of for example technical requirements or new methods and techniques. A critical, analytical attitude which is based on knowledge is required of the responsible of the department, otherwise he or she will not be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, to make a distinction between sense and nonsense, realism and unrealism. For example there is a trend to put the instruments no longer under a magnifying glass but under a microscope in order to check them. Ever more refined and highly technological research methods are applied to detect leftover pollution. But once again the question about the relevance to the patient can be asked and if possible should also be answered. Are there limitations to scientific research? Probably not. But how far can we go and not to get lost between the proteins and the fats?

Every department is subjected to this dialectic before it can provide an answer. It can come as no surprise that the translation is never the same one. No single department is the clone of another one. Each department is different and has its unique combination of chromosomes: people, knowledge and means, which make it into what it is.

The present sterilization department is a separate geographical entity within the hospital. This has enabled "sterilization" to establish and develop its own identity. It has also contributed to the holistic approach to the decontamination process. On the basis of the self-confidence and the self-respect that we have built the time is now ripe to open up and to strive for better integration into the hospital. We should be prepared to look further than the walls of the CSSD because the CSSD is an essential element in patient care. To create the ideal conditions for the best possible care and to maintain them is one of the challenges we are facing day in and day out in the hospital, both in the CSSD itself and outside of it. But our responsibility does not end at the exit doors of the CSSD but is extended to the operating theatre and to the bed of the patient. Because each patient, wherever in the world, has the basic right to be treated with a medical device which is of the highest possible quality. To guarantee this right, in its area of expertise, is "the" challenge for the CSSD. Therefore, we should not turn a blind eye to evident malpractices with instruments outside the CSSD. It is our duty to intervene and to try and put things right whenever we come across 'misuses'.

As I already wrote in the invitation to this congress one of the main objectives is to build bridges between the east and the west, the north and the south. For this reason we have invited a lot of prominent experts from all continents to address the congress in their area of expertise. The ensuing exchange of ideas should lead to an evidence based practice with standardisation and innovation as the key concepts. Standardisation has to ensure that sterilization processes run efficiently and safely, innovation that the CSSD adapts technically, economically and ecologically to an ever changing hospital environment.

Josy Holdener said the following a number of years ago - I translate freely - :

"It is time to get going. The task of the departments, the developments in health care, the expectations of the patient and the objectives of the World Forum do not leave us any other choice!"
Today this appeal has lost none of its relevance. So let us join forces on the road to a high quality CSSD in the interest of the member of staff, the provider of care and most of all of the patient.

I wish you a successful congress,
Wim Renders
Brugge, 30/06/2010