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The fight against the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to strengthen collaboration between hospitals, residential institutions and primary care health professionals.

In March 2021, the FPS HSFCE launched a call in this respect, inviting general and university hospitals to take part in a pilot project called ‘Hospital Outbreak Support Team (HOST)’, aimed at, on the one hand, improving the management of epidemics and cluster outbreaks, and, on the other hand, supporting hygiene teams and management groups for antibiotics therapy in the prevention of and fight against infections and in antimicrobial management.

In 2021, 21 pilot projects with multidisciplinary HOST teams had already been created. In 2022, 3 new pilot projects have been started, which include the entire Belgian hospital landscape.


Achievements in the first year of the pilot project

The first year of the pilot project was aimed at:

  • Specifying the coordination between the hospitals involved via cooperation protocols;
  • Creating a multidisciplinary HOST team that complies with the minimum composition criteria[1];
  • Creating a telephone hotline that can be reached both by hospitals and by other residential care centres.

Despite the difficult start due to the busy period during the COVID-19 pandemic, most participating networks met the above objectives. All participants said they had already drawn up a cooperation agreement, and for two out of three projects this had already been signed by all participating hospitals.


Where the creation of a HOST team is concerned, all participating networks reported that they had managed to set up a team: in 16 networks, the minimum requirements for this were met, and in 8 networks additional requirements were met. In 2021, 35% of the professionals needed were recruited. The other vacancies were filled by people who were already working within the hospital network.


The majority of the HOST teams indicated that they had set up a 24/7 telephone line. However, discussions are still ongoing between the federal authorities and the federated entities to clarify the role and scope of this 24/7 service. In these discussions, it is attempted to provide an offer that meets the needs of the various regions and residential care centres, while respecting the powers of each party.


Collaborations and exchanges

An important element of the success of this pilot project lies in the communication between the actors in the field, in the hospital management and in the regional and federal authorities. However, in the first year of the project, the pandemic made it impossible for the various actors to meet. For this reason, individual intervision sessions were set up by the Belgian Antibiotic Policy Coordination Committee (BAPCOC), where support was provided to the HOST teams. This initiative has led to the publication of a web page with FAQs.

On the other hand, dialogue sessions between the BAPCOC team and the different regions were set up in order to define their specific roles and tasks. In particular, the complementarity between the OST and HOST teams was defined. The regional authorities also contacted the newly created HOST teams to brainstorm about the best form of cooperation to meet specific local needs.

More information: BAPCOC page dedicated to the project

[1]A project manager (0.5 FTE), a HOST coordinator (1 FTE), a nurse (1 FTE), a hospital pharmacist (0.5 FTE).