‘Copper is germ killer, use it for touch surfaces’

The Copper Development Association Africa (CDAA) is on a drive to promote the use of copper made touch surfaces in hospitals and clinics across the African continent in an initiative that promises to cap germs.

The drive is informed by a well established body of knowledge being that copper comes with antimicrobial properties, a natural ability that kills bacteria and prevent the spread of infection on touch surfaces.

In a statement issued yesterday the CDAA cited a project undertaken by the Palabora Foundation, the arm of Palabora Mining Company.

The statement said when renovations at the Maphutha Malatji hospital were nearing completion in Phalaborwa, Limpopo Province, the Palabora Foundation intervened with a far reaching community health programme. The intervention also included the construction of a new clinic at the Mashishimale village in the Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality. The critical thing however was piloting the use of antimicrobial copper surfaces in the Maphutha Malatji.  Antimicrobial copper products were installed in vulnerable areas.

Malesela Letsoalo, director of the Palabora Foundation said “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 Limpopo Department of Health and Social Development to extend the installation of these surfaces at our new Mashishimale village clinic”.

CDAA members Copalcor, Cobra, and Copper Tubing Africa manufactured and supplied the products, which are still in place. 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, said “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,” said Swanepoel.


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