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Does ‘Super Germs’ herald hard times for health & medical tourism?

 This week’s article in the NewScientist on hyper resistant bacteria originating in India and Pakistan, has alerted physicians around the world again to the prudent use of antibiotics and reminded all health care practitioners about the necessity of creating an infection-free hospital environment.This bacterial gene  – the NDM-1  – works by producing an enzyme that safeguards bacteria against ?-lactam antibiotics, like penicillin and what is more, it can be transferred between different bacteria, allowing it to create a pool of bacteria that are resistant to any antibiotics.

This clearly has huge implications for the health tourism industry, as the researchers postulate that the new germ hitch-hiked to the UK on a patient travelling for surgery to India.

The Blueprint Health philosophy of applying evidence-based care in a patient-oriented environment, has never before been as appropriate and relevant following this revelation.

South African private hospitals have excellent track records regarding infection control, with hospital-based infections like MRSA a non-issue. It is also important to note how recognised physician organisations like SAMA ( provide strong guidance regarding appropriate prescription of antibiotics to prevent over-use, allowing bacterial germs to re-invent themselves to render our weapons harmless!

In agreement with dr Godwin Wilson, a clinical microbiologist commenting on the blog, it is in the best interest of public health, our entire health care industry and medical tourism in particular, that all providers take such findings seriously.  All should refine their systems according to evidence-based and common sense principles to not only maintain the trust of their client-base, but also provide the services that they are ethically bound to deliver.

- Dr Heloise Avenant, Blueprint Health, Friday, 20 August 16th 2010 –