JOHANNESBURG – August 21, 2013 –In 2011, when renovations at the Maphutha Malatji hospital were nearing completion in Phalaborwa, Limpopo Province, the Palabora Foundation, the social arm of Palabora Mining Company, decided to implement a far reaching community health programme which also included the construction of a new clinic at the Mashishimale village in the Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality. This was done in recognition of the fact that poor health has an extensive impact on employment and education, leading to the establishment of a partnership between the foundation and the Limpopo Department of Health and Social Development (LDoH & Soc. Dev.)..
The antimicrobial properties of copper and its ability to naturally kill bacteria and prevent the spread of infection on touch surfaces had long been proven by the International Copper Association, so the Copper Development Association Africa (CDAA) approached the LDoH & Soc. Dev. to pilot the use of antimicrobial copper surfaces in the Maphutha Malatji hospital’s theatre, where they assisted with the identification of vulnerable areas and subsequently installed antimicrobial copper products.
“We had heard about the benefits of copper touch surfaces and the installation of antimicrobial copper at the Maphutha Malatji hospital. Based on this pilot, we subsequently worked with the CDAA and the LDoH & Soc. Dev to extend the installation of these surfaces at our new Mashishimale village clinic,” explains Malesela Letsoalo, director of the Palabora Foundation.
CDAA members Copalcor, Cobra, and Copper Tubing Africa manufactured and supplied the products, which are still in place and continuously fighting and preventing the spread of infection. The installation included touch surface items such as wash basins, light switches, waiting room and toilet seats, laundry shelves, door handles and push plates.
CDAA centre director, Evert Swanepoel, says: “It is an accepted fact that hand washing campaigns aimed at healthcare workers are not enough, but the addition of antimicrobial copper helps to reduce infections by up to 80 percent. No other material, such as stainless steel, melamine or glass, even comes close to being this effective.”
Cleaning protocols were put in place at both facilities, and the cleaners were trained in the correct cleaning of copper, a method that does not affect the natural ability of metal to kill germs, but does keep it bright and shiny.
“Natural copper was used at both facilities but there are hundreds of different antimicrobial copper alloys available, in a wide range of colours, to suit any architect’s design. Given the success of these, and other projects, the CDAA is engaging with healthcare facilities in South Africa and the rest of Africa to promote this life saving metal and reduce the rate of infections in hospitals and clinics,” concludes Swanepoel.
About the Copper Development Association Africa
The Copper Development Association Africa (CDA Africa) has represented the local copper industry in southern Africa since 1962 and now promotes copper usage throughout Africa. The CDA Africa’s head office is based in Johannesburg and, on behalf of its members, the organisation is committed to promoting and expanding the use of copper and copper alloys throughout Africa.