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Anti-microbial Copper's Role in Combating Hospital-Acquired Infections
Hospital acquired infections are a serious problem. Some estimates say 21-45 per cent of patients, who get admitted to hospitals in India, end up getting infected with deadly Hospital Acquired Infections. Dr Anu Kant Mital, Spokesperson for Antimicrobial Copper Cu+ at International Copper Promotion Council (India) says it may be possible to reduce hospital-acquired infections by swapping stainless steel and plastic hospital room surfaces for anti-microbial copper.

Infections that are seen in patients after 48 hrs of admission or after their period of admission surpasses the incubation duration or any infection that was not present in the patient before he was admitted as well as any infection the emerges within 48 hrs after the patient is discharged from the hospital are known as Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAIs). Currently, in the last decade there has been an exponential rise in the rates of HAIs esp by the Super bugs like the Methicillin resistant StaphAureus (MRSA), Vancomycin resistant E. Coli (VRE) etc.

Prevalence of HAIs in India
The scanty reports suggest an incidence of HAI in India ranges 21-45 per cent. This is more properly documented in a few studies conducted in the ICUs. The reasons for HAIs are the same in India as elsewhere namely lack of proper Disinfection practices including inadequate Hand washing, multiple carriers in the patient areas ( Like visitors of the patient and other patients), using materials that allow the growth of the organisms to make up surfaces that are frequently touched etc.

Challenges Associated with Controlling HAIs
We need to ensure proper protocols for disinfection and hand washing are in place and are implemented, also that the areas where susepible patients are kept are not frequently visited by multiple people, use materials like anti-microbial copper alloys in the frequently touched surfaces etc.

Can Copper Reduce HAI? All bacteria viruses and fungi die when they come in contact with the surfaces made of anti-microbial copper. This leads to a substantial reduction in the residual bio burden in the bed unit where the patient is therefore it reduces the risk of the patient acquiring infections.

Anti-microbial Copper is versatile and very useful in all the touch surfaces in any health care setting where HAI is a problem.

In a hospital all touch surfaces that are frequently touched by patients, doctors, nurses, other healthcare workers and the relatives of the patients, like door knobs and push plates, bedrails, IV poles, bedside tables, overbed trolleys, nursing trolleys, the basins and taps would all be the surfaces that could have anti-microbial copper material incorporated to be free from the HAIs.

anti-microbial copper touch surfaces have been shown to kill all the organisms including the superbugs that cause havoc in the healthcare settings, thus reducing the infection rates in ICUs in hospitals like the Sloane Kettering Hospital in the USA by as much as 69 per cent. This would translate into immense savings in Costs as well as reduction in the days of stay in the hospital of these patients.

Current Policy Framework to Reduce Infection Control
We plan to continue our efforts to sensitise the hospital owners, administrators, doctors and the hospital infection control committee members as well as the advocacy efforts with the Government officials who are decision makers, to have the recommendations of using anti-microbial copper included in the tendering processes of the hospital plans at the outset itself.

We also plan to conduct a couple of studies in our Indian setting to reiterate and replicate the findings of the studies done elsewhere in the other international centres. We have a lot of positive enquiries and responses from many of the new healthcare projects, both large and small, from different parts of the country. There are enquiries about the specifics and also for the equipment manufacturers from various hospitals.