Support for sterile supply departments

Sterile supply - GH-Breman Asikuma Hospital 1984 HES Operating Theatre Repair OR Table

Ghana-Breman Asikuma Hospital 1984 The early days in Ghana: repair of equipment in the operating theatre

It was in 1982, already  almost 42 years ago, since I left for Ghana, West Africa, as a technician, where I would stay for 7 years. I was responsible for the setting-up of a maintenance service for the hospitals within the healthcare system of the Catholic Church. Initially the work was focussing mainly on the actual repairs and maintenance of equipment in all its variety. In the later years the tasks moved to more organisational work and most of all training. I found out that for most equipment a wide range of training and study material was available. However for sterilization the information I could find was limited to often very brief instructions for use of equipment without further background information. After finishing the contract in Ghana I was asked to start preparing training material for hospital technicians. I thus choose sterilization as one of the first subjects to cover. It was in the early nineties, the time that in the Netherlands the world of sterilization was very much in motion. The Netherlands was in the forefront of the developments in this domain. The Guidelines on Sterilisation and Sterility were just formulated and became the basis for the first European Standards for sterilisation. The trade quickly professionalized.

Cover of the English version of the book: Sterilization of Medical Supplies by Steam 3d edition. Compiled and Published Through MHP Verlag, Germany

Cover of the 3rd edition of the English version of the textbook

I came to realize that I severely underestimated my efforts of writing a book on the topic! In order to be better prepared I attended a training with Mr. Machiel Jan Bot of Medithema, who introduced me with great enthusiasm into the world of micro-organisms, infection prevention and sterilization. For gathering information I got in touch with many sterilization-related companies and among others the RIVM: the Institute for Public Health and the Environment of the Netherlands. At that time the late Mr. Jack van Asten was pushing a scientific approach to sterile supply in hospitals throughout The Netherlands and through his department was enforcing improved quality control and validation of sterilization processes. From the information that was slowly but surely gathered, the first English edition was created which was published in 1996 under auspices of the ESH, the predecessor of the current WFHSS. In 2010 the third updated edition was published.

2007: Training of usersRSA-StellenboschTygerbergHospital20050815CSSDDemonstrationSterilizerBDTestGroup at the Tijgerbergerg Hospital, Stellenbosch, South Africa
During the past years I had the opportunity to present courses on  sterile supplies in many countries, especially in Africa. It is a great experience to see the enthusiasm of all those people who want to make a difference in their own field. The book has been a tool to provide the basic information. In the mean time the book was translated in 11 major languages and more are in preparation. These editions intend to be a contribution to improving sterile supply in a wide range of health facilities, notably in the developing world.
Notice: On 23-11-2023 Jan handed over the copyright of his books and eLearning to the Dutch Sterilization Association (SVN). For further information please contact SVN. 

LB-Monrovia St Josephs Hospital 20150703 CSSD KSG Overhaul Boakai Connecting Heating elements

Training of maintenance staff is crucial. 2015. St.Joseph’s Hospital, Monrovia, Liberia

Sterilization is a field where many exiting sciences and technologies meet: from microbiology, medicine, to mechanical and electrical engineering. A profession where life and death meet each other; in which life at micro-level is massively offered in order to protect ours. Through this sterilization almost gets a philosophical/ethical character.

Through a range of activities I hope to continue assisting health facilities to improve their sterile supply and provide  an introduction for all those that get in touch with this fascinating field:

Bungudu Hospital, Zamfara State, Nigeria. 2011-09-28. User training: happiness after a succesful test cycle in the Steriflow Robustex autoclave.Bungudu Hospital, Zamfara State, Nigeria. 2011-09-28. User training.
  • Assisting in selection, procurement, installation and repairs of sterilization equipment
  • Assisting in planning of the sterilization department.
  • Publication of the textbook on sterile supply in a wide range of languages
  • Research in relation to sterile supply, focusing on the specific context as often found in the developing world.
  • Training of staff involved in sterile supply:
  • Staff and supervisors in sterile supply departments who need a concise explanation of the engineering aspects of the equipment in their department.
  • Engineers who involved in maintenance and repair of equipment in the sterilization department or are associated with projects developing sterile services
  • Those engaged in promoting or developing sterile services for health facilities.
  • Anyone whose task it is to look after and operate equipment in the sterilization department.
TC- Kumba Kumba District Hospital 20080403 User Course Sterilization Operation Ectopic 1

TC- Kumba Kumba District Hospital 20080403 Adequate sterile supply is crucial!

The supply of adequate sterile goods  offers an essential contribution to the safe treatment of the many patients, who thus put their lives into our hands.

Jan Huijs

Note: Photography is one of my hobbys. Focus is on the amazing nature around our home. For an impression of some of my photos you are very welcome on