As Hungarians, we are very proud of Semmelweis Ignác – the importance of his work is always a part of our communication

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Hand Hygiene is one of the most important subjects of Ecolab. We asked Zsolt Végh, Marketing associate healthcare CEE, about new products, Semmelweis and the CEE region.

Mr. Végh, in the field of infection prevention Ecolab has a focus on hand hygiene. A big issue in this regard is the acceptance of healthcare workers: How should hand hygiene products be designed so that they are well received by healthcare workers?

Hand Hygiene is clearly one of the most important subjects that we  focus on in our work. The products we offer not only have to be effective against pathogens but also have to live up to healthcare workers’ expectations. It is important that our solutions have to be gentle on the skin, are effective for  long periods and do not cause irritation. First of all  products have to be designed in a way that will make them comfortable and convenient for the user. However, it is never only about the product. Well-organized hand hygiene trainings are equally important. All employees should receive training specific to their job responsibilities, moreover, training should be provided to all new employees during orientation and should be repeated on a regular basis. Annual refresher courses are recommended. And Ecolab, being a leader in this sphere, can provide these training as well as high quality products.

What is about the feedback of healthcare workers? Is it continuously included in the development of Ecolab hygiene products?

Obviously, the satisfaction of healthcare workers is very important. During a hospital employee’s typical day, there are a significantly high number of moments when clean and disinfected hands are needed. For this, they have to have a product they are willing to use. For instance, there has been fierce debate related to the use of antibacterial soap. In September 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) forbade companies to manufacture products containing bactericidal compounds unless those companies could prove efficiency and safety of such components for daily usage. If for some reason healthcare workers avoid using hand hygiene products it would certainly cause a drop in compliance and the risk of infection would rise  due to the fact that one square centimeter of human skin can contain several hundreds of thousands of microorganisms. Hence, Ecolab takesall feedback regarding our products very seriously and does its best to develop products that meet all customer needs.

As a Marketing associate with Ecolab in Hungary, you have a lot of experience concerning hand hygiene in Hungary. What is the situation in comparison to other CEE countries?

It is hard to make a comparison like that. I think hand hygiene is not country specific but rather depends on the institution itself.  At the end of the day it is always the individual who decides if he or she spends 30 seconds disinfecting his or her hands, or not. There is  a growing number of people who understand the importance of hand hygiene in Hungary and, in my opinion, it is a very good sign. For instance, last year the well-known hand hygiene specialist, Professor Didier Pittet from Geneva visited the “Hand Hygiene Day 2016 Hungary” event in Budapest. He shared his impressions of the hospitals in our country, which he visited as part of an event with media. He said that hand hygiene practices were good, but of course, there was room for development. Hisstatement gave us new impetus, ideas and goals for the future.

The father of hand hygiene, Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, is Hungarian. Does this fact has any positive impact on the behavior of the healthcare worker in Hungary?

As Hungarians, we are very proud of Semmelweis Ignác and the importance of his work is always a part of our communication. He should be a role model not only for healthcare workers but also for those professionals who are working to achieve better hand hygiene. Unfortunately, those problems that professor Semmelweis faced 160 years ago  are still present in the contemporary world. We should never stop improving hand hygiene because the work in this sphere can never be considered complete. In addition to this, as in Semmelweis’s case, the result of all of these efforts may onlybecome visible and appreciated in the future. Nevertheless, the road that lead us there is very bumpy.

In March 2017, the Semmelweis Foundation has its second CEE Conference. What do you expect from this event?

I expect to take part in frank discussions, discover new ideas and find solutions designed by fellow colleagues. I hope to hear about a number of international experiences and that the knowledge that will be shared at this event  will be useful for everyone. Well-known experts are going to visit Hungary. Ecolab is honored to help bring this event to life.

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Semmelweis was initiated 2012 in Vienna/Austria by a group of engaged private people and meanwhile operates across the borders to address relevant health care topics in the EU. The Foundation is named after the famous Hungarian physician Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, who suggested a lack of hygiene of doctors and staff to be the main reason for childbed fever. He tried to introduce hygiene protocols and with his famous study of 1847/48 he is seen as the father of evidence-based medicine.

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