How a pressure cooker can save lives

Infection control in the surgical department of hospitals in Europe and around the world has been a hot topic in recent years, where it is believed that many infection rates can be reduced by strictly following existing protocols.

However, in many parts of the world like West Africa the infection rates are double, or even triple, what they are in Europe or North America. To overcome this Mercy Ships has developed a unique training program, that helps teach effective sterilization techniques of surgical equipment and infection prevention.

Apart from the lack of training, the biggest obstacle to effective sterilisation in local hospitals in developing nations is often the lack of functional equipment. The hospitals often have rather antiquated autoclaves, which break down and often cannot be repaired, because the local staff lack the expertise, or simply because they cannot get the necessary parts to repair the equipment.

So the ships medical training department has come up with a rather unique solution using a household pressure cooker, readily available in these countries, and a specially designed sterilisation basket which goes inside. They are also designing a special container, which can be placed around the basket in the pressure cooker and later used to store the instruments ready for use.

Apart from the fact that the pressure cookers are readily available, they can also be heated using any available heat source, so they don’t depend on unreliable local electricity and water supplies. This means they can be transported easily and even used in remote areas!