Minister stresses on ‘Do no harm’ approach in healthcare

Azlan Othman

The cornerstone of good healthcare practice lies in the approach to ‘do no harm’, according to Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Md Isham bin Haji Jaafar.

The minister said this at the opening of International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW) at The Empire Hotel & Country Club last night.

“This event therefore is an excellent opportunity to reflect on progress, consider challenges and plan together how we can deliver safe and effective care where good quality patient outcomes are our primary focus. Patient safety and infection prevention control are the fundamental features of Brunei Darussalam’s health service,” he said.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Md Isham who is also the Chairman and Executive Director of Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC) said healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are a major public health problem with an impact on morbidity, mortality and quality of life. At any one time, up to seven per cent of patients will acquire at least one HAI, and deaths from HAI occur in about 10 per cent of affected patients,” he said.

These numbers clearly demonstrate the significant impact of HAIs. It presents a continued threat to the safe and effective functioning of health systems and adversely impacts on the quality of health service delivery. HAIs not only cause prolonged hospital stay and long-term disability but also increase the likelihood of resistance of microorganisms to antimicrobials; incur a massive additional financial burden for health systems and result in high life-related costs for patients and their families, as well as lead to excess deaths.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Md Isham bin Haji Jaafar with organising committee members. PHOTO: AZLAN OTHMAN

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Md Isham added, “With this in mind, I would like to outline three principles for consideration. I believe these can form guiding principles when reviewing and developing our strategies and plans for the coming year.

“Infection Prevention Control (IPC) must begin before the patient even presents to our facilities. An often overlooked part of IPC initiatives is the importance of the built environment and physical structures, materials and equipment that underpin and support IPC processes and practices. To promote effective and standardised clinical practice in accordance with accepted guidelines, emphasis should be placed on optimising the healthcare environment to ensure a work system that supports the effective implementation of IPC practices. Ensuring the provision of appropriate materials, items and equipment and their exact placement or position are recognised as critical elements of human factors engineering (ergonomics), which support their appropriate use and increases compliance with good practices.”

Furthermore, several environmental issues are of concern for IPC: adequate facilities required for the isolation of patients, precautions to control rodents, insects and other vectors of disease should be in place, appropriate facilities (for example, sluice area, bedpans, urinals, etc) in place, and even sinks for hand hygiene facilities. Proper toilet facilities for staff and patients should be seen as an IPC issue.

Earlier, Medical Director of JPMC Dr Meera Sahib Kabeer in his capacity as the Chairperson of IIPW expressed his gratitude to all attendees at the event.

“The IIPW conference offers a unique forum for participants to exchange knowledge and experience in the prevention of HAIs and control of antimicrobial resistance around the world. Recent advances in Infection Prevention and Control Programmes are widely recognised as being both clinically effective and cost-effective. Good infection control practices do save both lives and money.”

The Minister of Health then officially launched the Handbook of Antibiotic Guidelines (2nd Edition) and declared the International Infection Prevention Week 2019 open.

The event was followed with a presentation, ‘Infection Prevention Culture ’ by Dr Ling Moi Lin from Singapore General Hospital specialising in healthcare quality. Dr Ling is recognised internationally and has been the Chairperson of the Asia Pacific Society of Infection Control (APSIC) since 2002.

Dr Daniel Chan from Farrer Park Hospital presented the next topic, ‘Pneumonia or Pneumonitis?’ – Identifying immune-related adverse events from immune-oncology therapy.

The event continues today. The two-day event includes interaction between the speakers and the audience. The event is also in collaboration with two local healthcare entities, Gleneagles Jerudong Park Medical Centre, Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre and was supported by MSD Singapore.