My dad is a prostate cancer survivor. We were lucky. He had a doctor who was on top of things and through my contacts, we were able to find him an excellent specialist. The best news of all was in June when the oncologist said my dad no longer needs to visit him and passed him back to his GP. It was an awesome day.
Why am I sharing this? Well each November since my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer I have supported “Movember”. Rest assured, I am not growing facial hair. I do, however, donate to friends or family members who decide to grow a beard, a mustache or a goatee. I’m giving to a worthy cause – prostate cancer research. I’m hoping that sometime in the future someone else’s dad won’t have to tell his baby girl that he has cancer.
Without a doubt there is no shortage of worthy causes – cancer research, food banks, clothing and even hair donations – we can become almost numb to the requests for money to support cause after cause. So I will apologize as this is another cause, but one I hope the infection control community can get behind – infection control education. In particular, funding for infection control education in Africa.
Why is education in Africa so important? Because there is a shortage of skills particularly in infection prevention and related topics like engineering and infrastructure maintenance. Education and understanding of the local conditions is pivotal to good infection control practices in both healthcare facilities and in the communities. Similar to the National Infection Prevention Associations we see in industrialized countries like Canada, the US, the UK, etc, an association was started by a group of visionaries in Africa. The Infection Control African Network (ICAN) was established in 2012 and has grown include 500 members from 34 countries across Africa. It has an extensive Education programme – Cape to Cairo. Since 2005 ICAN in partnership with Stellenbosch University has graduated over 120 students in the Postgraduate diploma program in IPC, 300 in fundamentals in IPC, 1200 in the Basic course in IPC, 94 managers in cost effective IPC practices. These are just a few of the many courses that are offered. There is also an ICAN conference where bursaries and scholarships are given to African scientists to present their research. Further, ICAN has been a member of the WHO committees on IPC and related topics with a view to carry forward the view of low to middle income countries. There is no question that ICAN has had a very positive impact on African lives.
But all of this comes with a cost. In a country the size of Africa where resources and money is scarce, support is needed to continue and expand the education efforts. By using teleclass education systems like Webber Training, ICAN can take their infection control education into some of the more rural and remote parts of the African continent. To ensure that as many people as possible can receive the training, all of the course lectures will be made available on teleclassafrica.org in English, and eventually, in French, Portuguese, Arabic, and Swahili. This will mean that virtually every healthcare worker on the continent will be taught in at least one language that is understandable to them.
In the spirit of “sharing is caring” I am hoping that some of you may be willing to support this worthy cause. If you’re not able to support, I am hoping that you would consider sharing the Go Fund Me link. It’s amazing how far $15,000 can go. Where else on earth can an infection control education program be brought to healthcare workers from 54 countries?