Infection control systems in transition: The challenges for post-Soviet Bloc countries

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Journal Article
Journal of Hospital Infection, 2012, 80 (4), pp. 277 - 287
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Background: Just two decades ago, 30 of today's countries in Europe and Asia had socialist governments under Soviet dominance or direct administration. Intensive health system reforms have altered infection control in many of these countries. However, much of the literature from these countries is difficult to access by international scientists. Aim: To summarize existing infection control policies and practices in post-Soviet Bloc countries. Methods: In addition to PubMed and Google search engines, we explored local websites and grey literature. In total, 192 references published in several languages were reviewed. Findings: Infection control in these countries is in the midst of transition. Three groups of countries were identified. First, Eastern European and Baltic countries building surveillance systems for specific pathogens and antibiotic use; second, European post-Soviet Bloc countries focusing on the harmonization of recently established infection control infrastructure with European surveillance programmes; third, countries such as those formerly in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Mongolia and post-conflict Eastern European countries that are in the first stages of reform. Poor commitment, resource scarcity and shortages of expertise were identified. Underreporting of official infection control statistics is widespread. Conclusions: Guidance from international organizations has been crucial in initiating and developing contemporary infection control programmes. More support from the international community will be needed for the third group of countries, where infection control has remained a neglected issue. © 2012 The Healthcare Infection Society.
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