Hepatitis C outbreak: MOH task force to learn from global best practices; aims to complete review by mid-2016

A nurse giving a demonstration on the infection control measures taken when a patient undergoes dialysis at the Renal Dialysis Centre at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH).
A nurse giving a demonstration on the infection control measures taken when a patient undergoes dialysis at the Renal Dialysis Centre at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH). ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The task force set up to strengthen infection control in all hospitals will learn from "international best practices" and adapt them to the local context, Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat, has said.

Mr Chee will head the task force set up by the Ministry of Health. It aims to complete its review by the middle of 2016.

He said: "While we have an effective surveillance system for community outbreaks, the Independent Review Committee has identified some gaps in how we detect and respond to uncommon and unusual infections.

"The task force will focus on measures to address these gaps and strengthen our system resilience, to enhance patient safety and patient care."

He added: "We will learn from international best practices to adapt to our local context, and work closely with healthcare institutions and medical professionals to improve our systems and processes."

More details will be released soon, the Health Ministry said in a release on Wednesday (Dec 9) evening.

It added that it has reminded all healthcare institutions and providers of the need to strictly comply with clinical protocols and guidelines.

Measures have also been put into place to strengthen the ministry's capability to detect potential outbreaks.

"This includes designating the Communicable Diseases Division to be overall responsible for overseeing surveillance of all infectious diseases, and overseeing all notifications, reports and analyses of infectious disease information," it said.

The Independent Review Committee said in its report submitted to Health Minister Gan Kim Yong that lapses, chief among them poor infection control, had led to the hepatitis C infections in two Singapore General Hospital renal wards.

Twenty-five renal patients were diagnosed with the virus, which possibly caused the deaths of seven, all of whom were kidney transplant recipients.

There were also gaps found in the MOH's infectious diseases reporting system, the report released on Tuesday (Dec 8) said.