According to the latest Global Burden of Diseases Report, 2017, India has the highest number of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) cases in the world – a chronic lung condition caused due to prolonged exposure to smoke. The second largest number of global deaths due to COPD is a whopping 8.4 lakh occur in India who also leads the world in deaths due to Asthma with 43% of all asthma deaths in our country.
So, in a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Department of Medical Education and Research (DMER), Government of Maharashtra, has entered into an agreement with the Pune based Chest Research Foundation (CRF), a leading research and training institute, to work with three Government Medical Colleges in Vidarbha – with an objective to support setting up of ‘Centers of Excellence’ for education, research and services for Asthma and COPD.
The initiative aims to educate and train MBBS students of these institutes who otherwise do not specifically study about the practical aspects of Asthma and COPD as part of their regular medical curriculum though the theory is covered extensively.
The Memorandum of Understanding for this initiative was signed between CRF and DMER in presence of the Minister, Girish Mahajan, by Medical Education Secretary, Dr. Sanjay Mukherjee and the Director, Medical Education and Research Dr. Tatyarao Lahane, in a ceremony at Mumbai on 13th February 2019.
The project has been initiated in Government Medical Colleges of Gondia, Chandrapur and Yavatmal and the inaugural event was held at the MASICON Hall at GMC Nagpur in collaboration with the Department of Respiratory Medicine.
This was a first of a series of interaction via which CRF will collaborate with the teaching staff to share training modules for training undergraduate and post graduate MBBS students. Honorable Dean, GMC Nagpur, Dr. Sajal Mitra said while inaugurating the programme, “The growing lung disease burden in the country cannot be tackled by specialists alone – we have to create a larger community of healthcare providers who have the knowledge and skills for timely diagnosis and management of COPD and Asthma” He has promised to upgrade department of Pulmonary Medicine in government medical college as lung institute of national repute.
The Director of AIIMS Nagpur, Dr. Maj Gen Vibha Dutta SM (Retd.) graced the occasion as the Guest of Honour. Dr. Sundeep Salvi, Director of CRF, present on the occasion, said, “CRF’s 17 years of experience in training doctors and working closely with Heads of the Departments of various Medical Colleges made us realize that there is insufficient knowledge and training being given in medical colleges about diagnosis and treatment of Asthma and COPD. For instance, until CRF’s research recently revealed, COPD was only attributed to tobacco smoke and considered to be primarily a smoker’s disease – leading to misinformed diagnosis that left out large parts of the population at risk such as women exposed to biomass cooking fuel – a major causative factor for COPD.”
Dr. Sushant Meshram, Professor and Head, Department of Respiratory Medicine, GMC Nagpur said that selection of these three medical colleges is strategic due to the high levels of pollution and risk factor for development of Asthma and COPD.
The project lead for this initiative Dr. Maj. Monica S Barne (Retd.), Head of the Training Programmes Division, CRF said, “We appreciate the initiative taken by DMER, Government of Maharashtra to not only support this programme but also go beyond to make the required medicines available at the 3 colleges. The inhaler drugs that are the best and safest treatment for these diseases are available in only some limited medical colleges in the state. But with this initiative, more patients in need will get access to this quality treatment and we are grateful to the government for the same.”
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