Bilimoria GSU outside 720
From left, Professor David Adams; University of Birmingham Chancellor Lord Karan Bilimoria and Professor Dion Morton.

The University of Birmingham is leading on major health research projects in Asia, Africa and Latin America to help develop surgical research that will have the potential to improve the quality of surgery.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery is launching a number of initiatives to improve care for surgical patients in low-middle income countries. 

Presently, the Unit is launching a range of health improvement initiatives including:

  • A clinical trial of interventions to prevent surgical wound infection (FALCON);
  • A study to measure outcomes from cancer surgery; and
  • A study to evaluate access to healthcare for patients requiring surgery.

Launched with partners from Low and Middle Income countries, Universities of Edinburgh and Warwick, – the Unit aims to establish independent and sustainable research ‘hubs’ and/or trial centres in partner countries (Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, Mexico, Pakistan, India, Nigeria, Philippines, Benin) that will perform their own clinical research relevant to local populations, whilst serving global needs.

Speaking at a showcase event in Birmingham yesterday (12 July) to mark the Unit’s first anniversary, University of Birmingham Chancellor Lord Karan Bilimoria commented: “The University of Birmingham’s research is world-changing and we’re focusing our efforts on tackling nine of the UN’s Global Goals – including ‘Good Health and Well-being’ to produce practical solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing mankind.

“We are proud to link with our partners at NIHR and the Universities of Edinburgh and Warwick in this amazing global health research initiative that will have the potential to save many thousands of lives across Asia, Africa and Latin America.”

The Unit is based at the University of Birmingham and co-directed by Professor Dion Morton, Barling Chair of Surgery at the University’s Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, and Professor Peter Brocklehurst, Director of the Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit.

Professor Morton said: “Each year, six million people die within 30 days of an operation. Surgical Site Infection (SSI) is the most common complication from surgery and a health burden for both patients and health-care providers.

“Reducing SSI has huge benefits. Patients suffer less and save money, whilst being able to return to work or school faster. They are also subjected to fewer and shorter courses of antibiotics, contributing to a reduction in global antimicrobial resistance. Hospitals can reduce costs and discharge patients earlier, preventing re-admissions.

“With the FALCON trial, we aim to reduce this burden to patients and health providers.”

Partners in the Unit have also formed a Policy and Implementation Consortium to work with professional associations, NGOs and government organisations across the world, including the World Health Organisation. This Consortium will use the results from the research generated by the Unit as a tool to inform changes in clinical practise and provide evidence to drive policy changes across the globe.

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • NIHR Global Health Research Unit works with partner institutions in a range of Low and Middle Income countries, including:
  • Ghana - University of Development Studies, Tamale
  • Nigeria - Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals, Ile-Ife 
  • Rwanda - University of Rwanda; University Teaching Hospital, Kigali
  • South Africa - Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Johannesburg
  • Mexico - Hospital Espanol, Veracruz
  • Pakistan- King Edward’s Medical University, Lahore
  • India - Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana
  • Benin - University of Abomey-Calavi, Cotonou
  • Phillipines - Philippine General Hospital University, Manila
  • The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): improving the health and wealth of the nation through research. Established by the Department of Health, the NIHR funds high quality research to improve health, trains and supports health researchers, provides world-class research facilities, works with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all and involves patients and the public at every step. For further information, visit the NIHR website (
  • NIHR awarded £7 million to the Universities of Birmingham, Edinburgh and Warwick to establish the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery at the University of Birmingham. It is one of 33 new research units and groups announced funded by £120 million from NIHR’s Global Health Research initiative which has given UK-based universities and research institutes the opportunity to develop and expand their existing global health work.
  • Over a period of four years, until March 2021, the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery will establish sustainable international research hubs across a range of low and middle income countries.
  • Working in partnership with the Royal College of Surgeons, relationships have been developed with local hospital networks, governmental ministries of health, industry and non-governmental organisations in order to set up pathways to rapidly translate research findings in to evidence-based patient care.