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ACPCE Conference 2007
Lectures and Presentations
Opening Speech by Wim Renders

by Wim Renders

ACPCE - Asociación Colombiana de Profesionales de Centrales de Esterilización IV Congreso Nacional de Profesionales en Centrales de Esterilización Hospitalaria ACPCE

27/28/29 September 2007
Hotel Hilton, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

First and foremost I would like to express my thanks to the Colombian sterilization society, ACPCE, and ASPCEB for the invitation to take part in this congress. Obviously and fortunately I am not the only participant. This is marvellous because it is proof of the large interest in our area of expertise and of the growing importance of sterilization because interest leads to knowledge and knowledge to progress!

It is also my privilege, in my capacity as its president, to represent the World Forum. I would like to make use of this opportunity to thank the Colombian society for joining the ranks of the World Forum.

This is very important because the Forum wants to be the meeting place of the global sterilization world and would therefore to like to bring together as many societies as possible.

The World Forum would like to be able to offer a surplus value to the Colombian society. Because by its integration in the WF not only the horizon of the Society is broadened but it also allows CSSD’s to situate themselves within a global frame of reference. Situating one's own department within this broader framework could provide a strong stimulus for a critical analysis of one's own practices. Learning from each other provides a shortcut to quality improvements. Research clearly indicates that the drive in an organization and/or department to learn and to innovate is amongst others influenced by the intensity of its contacts with innovative domestic or foreign organisations.

Indeed whether we welcome it or not globalization is a fact, also in the area in which we are active. This not only because the WFHSS at the moment has a membership of 47 national or regional societies, nor because members of staff in sterilization departments have already for quite some time been looking for the correct information across national borders. One look at our questions and answers pages makes this abundantly clear. But mostly because the Comite Europeen de Normalisation (CEN) and the International Standards Organisation (ISO) have started collaborating very closely with the aim of arriving at the worldwide harmonisation of norms. This is very important because the final result will be that sterilization departments all over the world will have to meet the same norms and quality standards. This can only be applauded because the patient, wherever in the world, has the right to at least a minimum of quality.

It pleases me to be able to ascertain, that in my experience, serious efforts are undertaken to improve the quality of the sterilization departments all over the world. The WFHSS wants to give its full support to these developments.

But we prefer to put our own emphasis on globalisation in order to avoid the more negative side-effects of it such as monopolization. This can be done, according to me, by opting for a soft form of globalization, namely a globalization based on solidarity. For us this solidarity has to take the form of the dissemination of knowledge, in other words the willingness to put the expertise and knowledge we have acquired at the disposal of others. By exchanging information and by stimulating cooperation it becomes possible to speed up the harmonisation between departments while at the same time respecting and retaining the specific character and free choice of the department. Independence and diversity not only have to be accepted but also promoted. The World Forum tries to make a contribution to this ideal via its website and its annual congress. Our ninth congress will be held in Milano, Italy from the 4th to the 7th of June, 2008. I trust I will meet some of you there.

It is definitely not the ambition of the WF to become the biggest Sterilization Society in the world. In actual fact the WF itself is not that important. National societies are far more important as they have to play a key role in the transfer of information by amongst others organising study days and training courses. The importance of these for daily sterilization practice cannot be overestimated. That is why I like to congratulate the Colombian sterilization society for the fantastic work it is doing and for the dynamism and enthusiasm with which it carries out its mission

But the departments themselves in other words the people that work there are of the utmost importance. You are in actual fact the real VIP's of the sterilization world because day-in, day-out you carry out your task very often in modest anonymity. You are putting theory into practice. This is essential because if we do not succeed in bringing about changes and progress in hospital sterilization departments, a society, and our world forum, has no reason for being. The World Forum does not want to be a society for its own sake. All of you hold the key to success. Because the extent to which the departments succeed in providing a high quality end product will determine to a large degree the success of the sterilization department, the national society and ultimately also of the World Forum.

We face daunting challenges: In the first place there is the need to guarantee more homogeneity within the departments which should make it possible to provide a medical device with a reproducible quality to the patient and the provider of the care. The introduction of quality and traceability systems should support this effort. The acquisition of the required competencies by the members of staff in the sterilization departments is another urgent priority in this context. Specific, dedicated training courses are the best way of achieving this goal. Setting up these courses is also a task for a sterilization society.

Seen in a broader context there should also be more homogeneity between departments. It is indeed no longer acceptable that a patient runs a higher risk in one hospital in comparison to another one, dependent on the quality of the sterilization department. To see to it that care of a high quality is offered is the task of the society and of the government. They have to set the guidelines and make sure that they are applied as well.

There is plenty of work to be done. Step by step the road to the ultimate goal has to be tackled: the provision of an end product with a very high quality. Your dedication and enthusiasm is a guarantee for ultimate success. That is why it is a privilege to be able to join you on the road to this objective.

Good Luck.
Wim Renders