SPECT was founded in 2011 when Christina Fast, an internationally certified Sterile Processing Educator, volunteered on the Africa Mercy—the world’s largest floating hospital. Visits off ship to local healthcare facilities revealed a gap in knowledge and training for the health care workers responsible for reprocessing surgical instruments, therefore increasing the risk of surgical infection.
A subsequent mission with the Africa Mercy allowed SPECT to engage with local health care workers in Guinea to assess needs and develop context-specific educational materials, which is the foundation of SPECT’s work.
In 2013 – 2014 SPECT, in collaboration with Mercy Ships, hosted the first sterile processing training program in the Republic of Congo. The program includes classroom-based training and on-site mentorship. The model continued in Madagascar and Benin to strengthen sterile processing practices, and contributed to the development of an innovative sterilization solution (including a pressure cooker, a specifically designed surgical instrument basket and a non-electric heating source) to 29 clinics that were without electricity and previously had no effective way of sterilizing instruments.
As of 2019, SPECT has worked with four partnering organizations in 14 countries across three continents, training over 1400 healthcare workers from over 200 facilities. SPECT is the only known organization focused specifically on improving sterile processing practices in resource constrained countries. SPECT has been able to link education and training with research, which has the global surgical community paying attention. Because of SPECT's advocacy role and impact of training we have been invited to participate in conversations addressing the challenges of global safe surgery, placing sterile processing at this table for the first time.