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South Africa: Building Design and Engineering to help Control Airborne Infection
Source: CSIR e-News - November 2013
Source Date: Friday, November 29, 2013
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, ICT for MDGs
Country: South Africa
Created: Nov 29, 2013

“While it is widely recognised that part of the solution lies in infection prevention and control in the built environment, there is a lack of specialised training in the field. This is both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as well as in the continuing professional development arena and extends to virtually all healthcare-related topics,” says Peta de Jager, research architect and CSIR leader of the course. She explains that the lack of training and knowledge results in low awareness levels and poor technical competence in addressing various issues such as airborne infection risks.
The training, modelled on a course on the same topic presented at the Harvard School of Public Health for the past six years, was introduced in South Africa for the first time last year by the CSIR and the UP partnership.
Technical engineering and design strategies addressed in the course included mechanical ventilation, filtration, and the design and use of space. The strategies covered are applicable to preventing transmission in workplaces including clinics, hospitals, laboratories and congregate living settings. The course comprised lectures, some demonstrations, as well as a site visit to Modimolle multi-drugresistant TB Hospital in Limpopo.
Two highlights were presentations by eminent speakers. The first was by Alan Ricks of MASS Design Group, who shared challenges and experiences in the development of healthcare facilities in Rwanda and Haiti. The second highlight was a public lecture by Dr Brian Williams of Stellenbosch University on the epidemiology of TB, which raised questions on how data on the location of TB, HIV and silicosis might be used to address South Africa’s public health challenges.
“We gave delegates the opportunity of discussing their own work, designs and challenges during an open forum in front of a panel which included Dr Edward Nardell of the Harvard School of Public Health; Dr Paul Jensen of the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) in Atlanta and other renowned experts,” De Jager remarks.
The next course is planned for June 2014. Says De Jager: “We are very grateful to the US PEPFAR for funding this initiative. We furthermore wish to acknowledge the CDC in South Africa and its Atlanta counterpart, as well as the Harvard School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who are instrumental in bringing this opportunity to South Africa.”
Peta de Jager
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