The 2016 SPECT Perspective

Highlights of our work in 2016

We now have a US presence! SPECT US was established in February 2016, as a sister organization to SPECT Canada. We are thrilled to have partners in the US who share the same vision. We are also excited to be able to provide tax receipts for donations made by US donors! 

To date in 2016, SPECT volunteers spent a combined total of 11 weeks working in Madagascar and 4 weeks in Benin. A fall trip is planned that will add another 13 weeks in Benin.



27 sterilization systems, 3 urban hospitals, 23 health clinics

In Jan-Feb 2016, SPECT’s Program Coordinator spent 3 weeks coordinating the distribution of 27 sterilization systems to 3 urban hospitals and 23 rural health clinics in and around Antananarivo and Antsirabe, Madagascar. The recipients of these units understood the importance of sterilization and expressed deep appreciation and confidence that now they would actually have a method of steam sterilizing their instruments.

In February, Global News Calgary sent the husband and wife team of Jamie and Tommy Mentzelopoulos, to join our volunteers, Christina and Dan in Madagascar to film SPECT’s work. In May, Global News Calgary ran a 3 night series on the work of SPECT, Mercy Ships, and a Calgary project to save endangered lemurs in Madagascar. Here’s the link to SPECT’s work:

Sterilization Packages

SPECT was selected to receive a grant from Grand Challenges Canada to promote an “innovate idea” in health care. Our idea was to see if we could use a simple pressure cooker fitted with a specialized basket that could suspend surgical instruments and then be heated using a non-electrical source. The objective was to provide hospitals and clinics with a low cost, simple, and effective method of sterilizing surgical instruments.  We are delighted to say that this project was successful; we were able to find a local medical supplier who imported the large pressure cookers, we hired a local welder to weld the stainless steel baskets, and we found a Swiss/Madagascar NGO that produced charcoal stoves that worked well as heating sources for these units. In December 2015 and January 2016 we were able to distribute 27 sterilization systems to clinics and urban hospitals that had no means of steam sterilizing their instruments. We were also able to train all of the recipients on safe operation and maintenance of the units.

Read more about the 2016 SPECT Newsletter

Hospital Mattress Distribution

Although purchasing and distributing hospital mattresses is not a SPECT focus, when Christina and Dan visited a hospital in Antsirabe in April and toured the maternity department, both were shocked to observe women just out of delivery lying on foam mattresses that offered little support, had either no covers or extensively ripped covers on them, and which had been badly stained with bodily fluids. 


Since infection control is SPECT’s focus, Christina was determined to “do something about this” and promised the hospital director that SPECT would try to raise funds to replace as many mattresses as possible (the hospital has 150 beds). Market research revealed 4 mattress suppliers in Madagascar. Following tours of several other hospitals and discussions with staff, one supplier was selected. Funds were raised at our silent auction and from a group of generous donors in Australia, (thanks Laura and Jen for spearheading this!) SPECT was able to raise enough funds for the purchase of 10 mattresses. Christina and Kayla had the privilege in September to deliver these mattresses and experience the joy and gratitude expressed by the staff and hospital director. 


Partnership with MercyShips


When Mercy Ships sends advance teams to a country to discuss a ship visit, meetings are held with senior Ministry of Health officials. One opportunity offered at these meetings is to have SPECT educators provide sterile processing training for hospital and clinic staff. If these officials welcome the opportunity, SPECT volunteers will begin an extensive evaluation process of not only the sterilization procedures at each facility but also worksite arrangements and efficiency. Health care workers are then invited to a classroom course followed by hands on mentoring at their workplace after the classroom sessions.

The 2015 SPECT Perspective

Highlights of our work in 2015

  • During 2015, SPECT volunteers spent a combined total of 30 weeks working in Madagascar.

  • Christina, our educator and consultant, provided training on the principles of sterile processing to more than 60 health care supervisors and/or workers directly involved in sterile processing activities from 33 hospitals and clinics in Madagascar.

  • Dan, our program coordinator/administrator, spent 2-3 weeks this past fall visiting 23 hospitals and clinics to assess their sterile processing practices. At the 15 locations that had sterilizing equipment, Dan used chemical and biological indicators to test the effectiveness of their equipment. Whereas in Canada, sterilizing equipment is tested daily, Dan was told these sterilizers had never been tested.

  • Kayla, a nurse from Vancouver and SPECT’s first non-board volunteer, joined Christina in Madagascar this fall to assist in education sessions (thanks Kayla, we loved having you along!).

  • With the support of a Grand Challenges Canada Grant, 30 Sterilization Packages have been produced. Each package includes a 21-liter pressure cooker, a stainless steel basket capable of suspending a basic set of surgical instruments, and a charcoal burning stove. 26 of these packages will be distributed before the end of this year to 3 urban hospitals and 23 rural health clinics.


The 2014 SPECT Perspective

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On July 1, 2014, Sterile Processing Education Charitable Trust (SPECT) marked its first anniversary as a registered trust in Canada! This milestone was celebrated with cake, finger foods and flowers at a trustee meeting in early July.



Harold LeTourneau, a Texas based industrialist, has developed our first template of the pressure cooker instrument basket. Christina will be travelling to LaGrange, TX in October to work with Harold on further development of the basket. Christina continues to develop educational materials in preparation for her next trip to Africa.

Until the end of 2014, Dan is volunteering in an administrative capacity to support the work of SPECT. 


Christina was scheduled to return to Benin, West Africa this month to continue carrying out the work of SPECT in partnership with the Africa Mercy. However, due to proximity of the Ebola virus, which the WHO has now projected to infect up to 20,000 people, the Africa Mercy has changed their plans and will now likely head to Madagascar. Christina plans to return to Africa from February to May 2015 for a follow-up visit to the ROC and to provide educational training in Madagascar.