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The Infection Prevention Strategy (TIPS)

Nov 4, 2019

What happens to an infectious agent once it leaves the human body? Well, it ends up in our cars, airplanes, food, water, and soil. If we know how that contagion behaves “in the wild”, then we’ll be able to kill it, filter it, or otherwise prevent it from proliferating, and potentially improve the lives of millions of people in the process. This is the study of Environmental Microbiology and it’s a topic that today’s guest has spent more than 30 years trying to understand.

Dr. Syed Sattar is Professor Emeritus of Microbiology at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa. He is also a co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at CREM CO.  He’s a world-renowned expert who regularly advises national and international agencies like the World Health Organization (WHO), and private-sector companies.

We’re also joined by Bahram Zargar, CEO of CREM CO. This is a company built on top of Dr. Sattar’s extensive body of work that aims to speed the assessment, development, and promotion of innovative and sustainable strategies for environmental control of harmful microbes for a safer tomorrow. It blends engineering with environmental microbiology to enable a whole new level of scientific rigor.

You’ll learn:

  1. What happens to infectious agents once they leave the body?
  2. What can we do with that knowledge?
  3. How air travel and the international food market have eliminated borders in the battle against infectious disease.
  4. How engineering can support Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) by enabling scientific rigor and validation.
  5. How this science can be used to develop new barrier technologies.
  6. What is lacking in today’s IPAC efforts and where does it need to go?
  7. How disinfectants can lead to their own form of resistance (i.e. bugs resistant to cleaning) and may even contribute to antibiotic resistance.
  8. What’s the biggest challenge in matching IPAC innovations with potential buyers in the healthcare system?
  9. Why we need to enable our “foot soldiers” (i.e. the cleaning staff and environmental services teams at hospitals) with proper training and tools to win this war.
  10. Why it’s important for innovators and manufacturers to be more scientifically responsible (i.e. don’t chase the bug of the month).
  11. Why the government needs to increase funding for research and development in IPAC.
  12. Why it’s so important to stand on the shoulders of the IPAC greats that came before us and build on their work.

A few key points that I’d like to highlight:

  • There’s very little money set aside by governments for research and development in IPAC. If there’s no money, then the best researchers aren’t motivated to go after these issues and innovation is starved. We’ve seen that recently in the U.S with the constant attack on the Prevention and Public Health Fund.
  • We rely on our cleaning staff and Environmental Services (EVS) teams to do a very important job in the hospital, but we don’t treat that position with much respect. “If our soldiers are not well trained and ill-equipped for battle, then how do we expect to win the war against the spread of infection?”
  • In a world of increasing antibiotic-resistance and anti-microbial resistance, we must focus on prevention in IPAC.


This episode originally aired on The #HCBiz Sow on May 17, 2017.