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The Pasteur medal was awarded to Professor Didier Pittet

Didier Pittet

The Swedish Society of Medicine (SSM) has decided to award the Pasteur medal to Professor Didier Pittet, director of the Infection Control Programme at the Geneva University Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine.

The Pasteur medal is awarded every ten years and rewards basic discoveries in bacteriology in the spirit and tradition of Pasteur. Professor Didier Pittet is awarded for “his lifetime achievements in infection control research and dedicated leadership in implementing multimodal infection prevention strategies on a worldwide scale”.

Prevention of healthcare-associated infections

Professor Pittet is the recipient of several national and international honours including a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) awarded by Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II for services to the prevention of healthcare-associated infection in the UK (2007). He is co-author of more than 500 publications in peer-reviewed journals and 50 textbook chapters.

Professor Pittet current research interests include the epidemiology and prevention of healthcare-associated infections, methods for improving compliance with barrier precautions and hand hygiene practices, as well as innovative methods for improving the patient care and safety. He is also involved in research on the epidemiology of infectious diseases, and public and global health issues.

The First Global Patient Safety Challenge

In 2004, Pittet was approached by the WHO World Alliance of Patient Safety to lead the First Global Patient Safety Challenge under the banner “Clean Care is Safer Care”.The mandate was to galvanise global commitment to tackle health-care associated infection, which had been identified as a significant area of risk for patients in all United Nations Member States. Pittet proposed that WHO Guidelines for Hand Hygiene in Health Care be developed under his leadership in consultation with a large group of international experts. The final version of the Guidelines was published in 2009 together with a multimodal improvement strategy, based on the model developed in Geneva and published in The Lancet in 2000.

“Over 20 years of experience with culture change at the University of Geneva Hospitals constitute the solid scientific basis of the work of Didier Pittet and this experience and leadership has permitted him to lead international strategies at the healthcare setting and national levels in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, UK, USA, and various countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle and Far East, and Central and South America. The experience of his team in engaging nations and healthcare settings worldwide in a universal commitment to patient safety is unique,” states the jury of the award.

The Pasteur medal

The Pasteur medal was first struck in 1892 and given to Louis Pasteur on his 70th birthday. The medal has since the year of 1900 been awarded every tenth year to a scientist who has made significant contributions in the areas of bacteriology or hygiene.