For the next five years the project will be funded with 8,1 million euro by the INTERREG IV A-Programme "Germany-Netherlands". Up to 6 million euro will be financed by the European fonds for Regional Development (EFRE) of the European Union, as well as by the Ministries for Economics of the German Federal States Nordrhein-Westfalen and Niedersachsen and the Dutch provinces Overijssel, Gelderland and Limburg. In Germany, the Institute for Hygiene of the University of Münster is the project leader, in The Netherlands the Institute of Behavioural Science of the University of Twente.
The Dutch/German collaboration should strengthen the protection against infection dangers such as hospital germs, diarrhea as well as the new influenza. In early October a first project activity concerning improvement of the hygiene of hands already started in schools of the region Wesel (G) and Nijmegen (NL). Pupils should be sensibilised for hygiene, in order to reduce the danger of an uncontrollable outburst of the new H1N1 influenza in schools.
In addition to this project, public health authorities and hospitals should synchronize the treatment of influenza patients along the border. In addition to the protection against influenza, it is a main goal of the project to fight the infection that patients are exposed to during their treatment. This especially means the protection against hospital germs with antibiotic resistance like MRSA. In Germany, the infection with MRSA is up to 20 times higher than in The Netherlands. Therefore, solutions like the already established www.mrsa-net.nl at the University of Twente should be further developed.
All these goals should be attained within the next 5 years by establishing a Euro-regional trust of quality with as much participants from the public health sector as possible - patients, hospitals, medical practices, public health offices, laboratories, cost units and others. A close collaboration with participants of the project "euPrevent MRSA" established in the region Maas-Rhein guarantees a very good professional exchange in contents matters along the whole German/Dutch/Belgian border.
Meeting the same comparable quality standards should help hospitals, medical practices, rehabilitation clinics, and nursing homes on both sides of the border to document their successful additional effort in fighting the dreaded hospital germs. In addition, the project partners will deploy their combined know-how to establish a cross-border early-warning system for especially dangerous germs. In order to make this possible, the successful concept of these regional networks should be strengthened by the public health offices. The cross border exchange of experiences should as well improve the regional networks.
Another main focus is the thorough training of the medical staff when it comes to hygiene and application of antibiotic. Especially in the application of antibiotics there is a significant difference between the two countries. That's why more than 50 advanced training units are planned within the next 12 months by the project partners in Aurich, Oldenburg, Münster, Enschede and Düsseldorf. These training units enable a cross-border exchange of experiences. There will also be a possibility for infected patients to be part of the project. The Dutch/German EPECS (epecs.org), an initiative of patients, will act as contact and bridge between patients and experts of the project on both sides of the border.
The project is co-ordinated by the University Clinic of Groningen, the Canisius Wilhelma Hospital in Nijmegen, the Institute for Health and Work in Nordrhein Westfalen, the Hospital of Oldenburg, the public health office of Niedersachsen, the MVZ laboratory in Münster, the public health office in Neuss, the University Clinik of Düsseldorf and the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians of Westfalen-Lippe. The above mentioned co-ordinators will bundle the numerous project activities in the different Euregios in the next 5 years in order to strengthen the protection against infections.
The universities of Twente and Münster collaborate in various cross-border projects. The unique potential of this partnership lies in the combination of Münster's strength and diversity in research and the more application-oriented alignment of the Dutch. In the long term, the aim of both universities is to establish the Dutch/German border region as a location of research. Other co-operations show, that this aim is well on its way, there is a close co-operation in the area of nano-sciences, where biologists, physicians, physicists, pharmacists and chemists of both countries collaborate closely.
The Euregional teamwork is to strongly strengthen patients' safety and the quality of medical care on both sides of the border. This will make it possible that infrastructure of health services can be used by both sides of the border. This leads to a better provision of medical care and will reduce costs. Patients' safety and a comparable quality of medical care contribute to the fact that the Euregios at the border can get an advantage of location and might develop a model character to other regions in Europe.
More information is available at the EurSafety Health-net project website.