Birmingham experts join Indian medics to counter surgical infection threat

From left: Kavita Mandrelle, Deputy Hub Lead, Ludhiana; Dr Dmitri Nepogodiev, University of Birmingham; Dr Dhruv Ghosh, Hub lead, Ludhiana; Dr Sohini Chakrabortee, University of Birmingham; and Parve Haque, Deputy Hub lead, Ludhiana

University of Birmingham experts joined medical professionals in India to set up an innovative research centre that will help to improve care for surgical patients.

Among the first studies to be launched would be a surgical trial to look at interventions to reduce the - often devastating - impact of post-surgical infection (FALCON); as well as a study to evaluate access to healthcare for patients requiring surgery.

A team from the National Institute for Health Research Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery (NIHR GHRU) travelled to Punjab to launch the first ever surgical Research Hub in India at Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMC), Ludhiana and deliver a training workshop.

Besides members from the Hub, the event was also attended by representatives from other hospitals (Spokes) in India that will be associated with the research studies of the Unit. 

The two-day training workshop is a key stage in establishing the independent and sustainable research ‘hubs’ and trial centre – part of a major health research programme to help develop surgical research that will have the potential to improve the quality of surgery.

NIHR GHRU experts Dr Dmitri Nepogodiev, Clinical Research Fellow, and Dr Sohini Chakrabortee, Programme Manager, co-led the training workshop along with surgeons from India, Dr Dhruv Ghosh (CMC Ludhiana) and Dr Rohin Mittal (CMC Vellore).

Dr Nepogodiev 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.”

Launched with partners from Low and Middle Income countries, Universities of Edinburgh and Warwick, the 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, while serving global needs.

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.

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.

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