The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (part of the World Bank) has extended a loan to the Romanian government so that they can fund a new Avian Flu Control and Human Pandemic Preparedness and Response project.  The proceeds will be channeled through the Ministry of Finance and on behalf of the Ministry of Health for the expressed purpose of purchasing equipment for isolation and intensive care units being set up at various regional hospitals and clinics that handle tropical and infectious diseases.

Nine new vertical laboratory autoclaves will be needed; one for each proposed location.  A vast list of other equipment will be acquired for this disease control program and bidding for contracts will start soon with a preliminary due date of 5 March, 2009.  The equipment is slated for delivery and installation at the Prof. Dr. Matei Bals Infectious Diseases National Institute and the Dr. Victor Babes Clinical Hospital for Tropical and Infectious Diseases in Bucharest.  The seven other locations receiving this equipment are in Iasi, Targu-Mures, Craiova, Constanta, Timisoara, Cluj and Brasov.  These clinics hope to have the equipment operational within a few months.

Growing Concerns About  A Possible Pandemic

Scientists are in race for time as they search for a vaccine that will be effective for the current outbreak of avian flu, just in case it jumps the species barrier and becomes transmittable by humans.  Although there have been a few claims recently of human transmission of the disease, nothing has been confirmed yet. Many epidemiologists suggest that it will take place eventually.

Most of the cases reported over the last few years can be traced directly to close contact with birds.  The more casualties of this infection that occur, the more likely it is that a stable and deadly mutation will arise.  It is only a matter of time before an outbreak as dramatic and deadly as the 1918 swine flu happens again.  It is not a question of if, but when.

The recent hints that a working vaccine has been developed are no guarantee of prevention.   It still needs to be properly tested before it is used upon the human population.  Besides, avian flu is not the only threat.  The next pandemic could easily come from a virus that we least expect to mutate and jump the species barrier.  Or, it might not be a virus at all.  Drug resistant bacteria are already a major problem even in first world settings.  Deaths due to hospital acquired infections are on the rise.  At this moment, sterilization procedures and suitable isolation facilities are our best defenses against both viruses and bacteria.

Governments around the world must be prepared to handle the potential flood of patients when the pandemic finally arrives.  Adequately furnishing facilities specifically designed to cope with such a situation is the only prudent thing to do.  Preventing cross contamination in healthcare settings is made possible with autoclaving equipment.  Instruments, dressings, and medical waste all require thorough heat and pressurized steam sterilization.  Medical staff and technicians must work together to make sure all procedures are followed to prevent the spread of nosocomial infections.

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