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Written by Charles John Palenik, MS, PhD Saturday, 01 November 2003 00:00
The Organization for Safety and Asepsis Procedures (OSAP), founded in 1984, comprises 2 complementary entities: an association and a charitable educational foundation. Each has its own board of directors and mission. The association promotes science-based policies and practices for infection control, health, and safety in healthcare settings. Its overall goal is to improve the safety and health of patients and practitioners worldwide. The foundation supports the activities of the association through the identification of funds from a wide variety of sources.
OSAP has a current membership of slightly less than 1,300 persons. Members include dental practitioners (dentists, hygienists, assistants, and dental laboratory technicians), allied healthcare workers, researchers, educators, dental manufacturers, sales personnel, and public health officials. Members work in private and public dental practices, academic facilities, military installations, and federal agencies such as the CDC, EPA, FDA, and OSHA. The common link is a strong commitment and interest in infection control in dentistry and human safety and health. The diverse membership shares a vision of a proactive organization that encourages the unbiased, open exchange of information on science, products, and technology in the dental setting.
The idea for an organization like OSAP was inspired almost 2 decades ago, when a small number of dental manufacturing and distribution companies organized a conference to share technical and practical information on office asepsis. Attendees included educators, researchers, publishers, practicing clinicians, and university professors. After the 1984 conference, a formal organization was created and bylaws written. OSAP was born.
In the early days, a multi-association management company performed membership functions. Volunteers handled most meeting functions. A small group of companies helped underwrite many of the organization’s start-up and operational expenses. In January 1995, a full-time executive director was put in place, and the national office was moved to Annapolis, Md. This placed OSAP closer to many of the federal agencies and organizations from which it derives its information. Soon, a charitable educational foundation was created, and solicitation of funds began.
OSAP’s basic strength is its diverse membership and its ability to obtain and organize infection control data and information dental professionals need. It attracts and combines the varying perspectives and experiences of its members and has developed synergy in its ability to offer information and education that is richer and more practical than a single perspective would offer.
OSAP activities in the United States are supported by membership, donations, and gifts, and especially by a cooperative agreement with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Two key live educational programs are offered to dental professionals annually: (1) a 4-day, intermediate-level “train the trainer” infection control program, co-sponsored by US Federal Services, will be held in Atlanta from Jan. 27 through 30, 2004; and (2) the annual OSAP symposium presenting cutting-edge information and a global scan of the infection control arena will be held in Miami from June 10 through 13, 2004. Information on all OSAP programs, policies, and materials can be accessed at osap.org.
The organization produces a publication 8 times a year that is targeted to dental offices. The publication, Infection Control in Practice, is designed to address the specific regulatory and practice management needs of the dental team. Each issue is dedicated to a single topic and includes all necessary background information, applicable regulations and recommendations, relevant terminology, and handy tables and checklists useful in staff training. Continuing education credit can also be earned. OSAP recently released a reprise of the famous “If Saliva Were Red” awareness program in videotape and CD format. An instructor guide is included in the program.
OSAP members are renowned experts in the field of infection control and human safety and health. They generously share their time and talents in the development of print and multimedia materials as well as formal training programs.
Recently increasing its international presence, OSAP has conducted programs and gained influence in Mexico and Central and South America, including Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, and Brazil. The organization’s goal is to improve dental school curricula and awareness among dental practitioners and to work with local and national dental and dental hygiene associations. OSAP is currently working with the National University of Mexico on its second annual diploma program in infection control and human safety and health. Central to this effort is the development of international training tool kits written in the vernacular language and culturally sensitive to the locale.
OSAP has just begun efforts in the Far East, especially in Vietnam and Japan, and interest is now developing with infection control groups in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom.
OSAP has also established formal relations with the FDI and is actively working with this group, the WHO, and the Commonwealth Dental Association to produce a program for sub-Saharan Africa. A conference involving oral health and infection control for the region will be held this December in Nairobi, Kenya. OSAP will have several representatives at this important event.
Interested individuals are invited to obtain resources by joining OSAP as members, subscribing to Infection Control In Practice, or by simply visiting its Web site, which is replete with downloadable information. Members receive (1) full online access to all current and past OSAP publications (hard copies are sent by mail) and (2) discounts to OSAP meetings and products, including all training programs and materials, texts, CDs, and audio and videotapes. Subscribers have electronic access to the current issue of In Practice. (North American subscribers receive it by mail.)
OSAP also has corporate memberships, with approximately 55 companies currently involved. Corporate members participate fully in all OSAP activities. At the last symposium, 24 corporate members had exhibitor booths. Approximately half of the association and foundation boards come from the private sector. Corporations are encouraged to speak with Therese Long, MBA, CAE, OSAP executive director, at (800) 298-OSAP (6727) concerning membership opportunities and benefits.
OSAP is dentistry’s resource for infection control and safety. Our organization is at your service and wishes to help you address your information and training needs. I and other OSAP member authors look forward to providing important infection control information to readers of Dentistry Today each month.
Dr. Palenik has held a number of academic and administrative positions at Indiana University School of Dentistry over the last 25 years. He is currently director of infection control research and services at the school. He is the 2003-to-2004 chairman of the OSAP Association board of directors.
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