NEWS

Drive to quash hospital superbugs

A Health Ministry initiative, to be launched next month, aims to quash a rash of hospital bugs that are becoming increasingly resilient and threaten to spread beyond hospital wards, it emerged yesterday. The initiative, undertaken by the ministry in association with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO), will focus on stamping out three particularly nasty «superbug» bacteria – klebsiella, acinetobacter and pseudomonas. These bacteria have developed a resistance to treatment of up to 50 percent, according to medical experts. According to Giorgos Saroglou, president of KEELPNO, the reason for the resilience of these bacteria is twofold: Greeks ingest excessive quantities of antibiotics and have therefore become largely immune to their healing qualities, and the pharmaceutical industry has shifted its focus in recent years toward developing other kinds of medication, chiefly for heart ailments. «The combination of these two factors has provoked this crisis,» Saroglou told Kathimerini. The aim of the new program, dubbed Procrustes, is to «establish the foundations for a proper system of monitoring and tackling hospital viruses,» Saroglou added. The program is to be launched on November 1 in a handful of hospitals. It foresees the creation of special «virus management» teams in hospitals who will be responsible for monitoring the presence of the aforementioned bacteria as well as the implementation of measures to curb their spread. The experts will be advised on how to treat patients displaying symptoms of infection. After six months, ministry officials are to assess the progress of the program’s implementation and decide on any necessary amendments before its extension to other hospitals across the country.