Installation of antimicrobial copper surfaces in two clinics by the Palabora Foundation
In 2011 the Maphutha Malatji hospital renovations were nearing completion in Phalaborwa in the Limpopo Province. Recognising that poor health has an extensive impact on employment and education, the Palabora Foundation, the social arm of the Palabora Mining Company, decided to implement a far reaching community health programme with the construction of a new clinic, through a partnership between them and the Limpopo Department of Health and Social Development (LDoH & Soc. Dev.) at the Mashishimale village in the Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality.
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. Based on this pilot, the Palabora Foundation then worked with the CDAA and the LDoH & Soc. Dev to extend the installation of antimicrobial surfaces in the upcoming Mashishimale village clinic, which was accomplished through this public private partnership.
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 IV stands, wash basins, light switches, waiting room and toilet seats, laundry shelves, door handles and push plates.
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%. 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, which does not affect the natural ability of copper to kill germs, but does keep the copper 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.
The CDAA continuously develops new antimicrobial products to reduce healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs).