Birmingham experts join Indian medics to counter surgical infection threat

University of Birmingham experts joined medical professionals in India to lead work in improving care for surgical patients.

University of Birmingham experts joined medical professionals in India to lead work in improving care for surgical patients.

Professor Dion Morton led the team of Birmingham academics hosting a key workshop in Delhi attended by representatives from the British High Commission, Indian Council of Medical Research, Union Health Ministry, Government of Punjab Department of Health.

The National Institute for Health Research Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery (NIHR GHRU) team held the event in Delhi – also welcoming representatives from its first surgical Research Hub at Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMC), Ludhiana.

An important stage in building progress towards establishing an independent and sustainable network of research ‘hubs’ and trial centre – the workshop is part of a major programme to help develop surgical research that could improve the quality of surgery.

NIHR GHRU Co-director Professor Dion Morton, from the University of Birmingham, commented: “Each year, 4.2 million people die within 30 days of an operation, half of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries such as India. Surgical Site Infection (SSI) is the most common surgical complication and this workshop represents an important step forward in reducing SSI in India and other countries.

“SSI can have a catastrophic impact on patients in India, driving many people into poverty as they struggle to work and pay healthcare bills. Reducing SSI has huge benefits as patients suffer less and save money, whilst being able to return to work or school faster.

“Patients also need fewer and shorter courses of antibiotics, helping to reduce global antimicrobial resistance, whilst hospitals can reduce costs and discharge patients earlier, preventing re-admissions.”

During the Birmingham team’s three-day visit to India, Professor Morton also met Prof Balram Bhargava, Director-General, Indian Council of Medical Research and Secretary, Department of Health Research, Government of India to discuss the project. He also met Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, as well as representatives of the State of Punjab where the India Hub is located.

The workshop was supported by the University of Birmingham’s India Institute – its Country Director Dipankar Chakraborty commented: “The India Institute aims to bring Birmingham and India closer together to deliver impactful research, create innovative education initiatives and extend our influence across the globe. We are delighted to support the NIHR GHRU team in progessing research which could save many lives in India and beyond.”

Launched with partners from Low and Middle Income countries, Universities of Edinburgh and Warwick, the NIHR GHRU Unit aims to establish hubs and/or trial centres in India and other partner countries that will perform their own clinical research relevant to local populations, whilst serving global needs.

Research Hub Lead Dr Dhruv Ghosh commented: “There is a critical need to improve surgical infrastructure across India and beyond in order to improve patient care and reduce the devastating impact of a lack of surgical care. We are delighted to link with our partners at the University of Birmingham in this latest stage of a global health research initiative that has the potential to save many thousands of lives in India.”

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.

Sarah Fallon, Head of Science & Innovation, British High Commission New Delhi, said: “this initiative has the potential to save many lives – not just in India but in countries around the world. Launching this exciting new research partnership, focused on Surgical Site Infection, is a brilliant example of how we can bring the brightest minds in India and the UK together to tackle the global challenge of post-surgical complications.”

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.

Notes to editors:

  • 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.
  • For more information, please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 8254 or +44 (0)782 783 2312. For out-of-hours enquiries, please call +44 (0) 7789 921 165. 
  • The University of Birmingham India Institute empowers leading academic, industrial and government partners in India to influence policy and tackle global issues - creating a supportive network for academics, research councils, institutions, government offices, commercial partners and all those interested in building transnational education partnerships with India.
  • The University’s relationship with India began in 1909 with the first cohort of Indian students attending the University to study for degrees in Mining and Commerce. Since then, the University has provided education to many outstanding Indian alumni.
  • 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

Benin - University of Abomey-Calavi, Cotonou

Phillipines - Philippine General Hospital University, Manila

Zambia Ndola Teaching Hospital, Ndola

India – C<C Ludhiana, Punjab

  • 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.
  • This research was commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research using Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding. The NIHR is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

Funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care

Engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research

Attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future

Invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services

Partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy

  • The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR commissions applied health research to benefit the poorest people in low and middle-income countries, using Official Development Assistance funding.
  • NIHR initially 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 53 (?) 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.