Improving infection prevention practices worldwide
Chandrakant Ruparelia, MD, MPH
Jhpiego - an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University
Over the past 10 years, Chandrakant Ruparelia, MD, MPH, has helped improve infection prevention practices in more than 20 resource-challenged countries.
Dr. Ruparelia is a senior technical advisor at Jhpiego, an international non-profit health organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins University. He supports the organization’s mission of enhancing the health and saving the lives of women and families in limited-resource settings by providing governments with technical assistance in infection prevention and control, family planning, HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, and other health issues.
“The most important thing is to understand each country’s culture and people,” said Dr. Ruparelia. “We never impose ourselves, but instead work hand-in-hand with in-country colleagues. The more the local stakeholders own a program, the more likely it will be sustainable.”
Infection prevention program development in every country starts with advocacy for evidence-based guidelines and grassroots level competency-building. In Ethiopia, for example, Dr. Ruparelia coordinated a three-day infection prevention workshop with local thought leaders – including Ethiopian Ministry of Health (MOH) representatives – to gain buy-in for improved practices. Since then, he has worked with the MOH and local medical professionals to develop national infection prevention guidelines and performance standards, recruit and train more than 20 masters trainers, and implement quality improvement approaches. He and in-country colleagues also conducted on-site infection prevention and control training for more than 600 healthcare providers in less than six months.
In Tanzania, Dr. Ruparelia developed the technical approach with Jhpiego Tanzania team for a project to improve quality of infection prevention practice in hospitals and medical schools. He and local colleagues have so far created national infection prevention and control guidelines, standards, training materials, and site strengthening approaches.
Dr. Ruparelia also hopes to establish a Tanzanian APIC chapter and adapt the APIC competency model to low-resource settings.
As he tackles infection prevention challenges in widely varying cultures with limited resources, Dr. Ruparelia remains motivated by one thought: “At the end of the day, if I am able to change the practices of even one healthcare provider in a remote area, I’m happy.”