EMERGENCY MEDICINE

Krishnan Raghavendran, M.D., was part of a delegation that traveled to New Delhi to discuss the trauma care alliance with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

Going Global

University of Michigan to help advance trauma care and research in India

issue 16 | summer 2012

The University of Michigan Health System is teaming up with one of India's top academic medical programs to collaborate on trauma care research and foster the exchange of medical personnel and ideas.

The alliance with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) marks the first such partnership between academic medical programs in the United States and India around trauma care, says trauma surgeon Krishnan Raghavendran, M.D., an associate professor of surgery in the Division of Acute Care Surgery at the U-M Medical School.

Raghavendran was part of a delegation from U-M that traveled to New Delhi in late February to discuss the venture. The group — which also included Steven Kunkel, Ph.D., senior associate dean for research, and Kevin Chung, M.D., M.S., assistant dean for instructional faculty and associate director of Global REACH — toured the Jai Prakash Narayan Trauma Center at AIIMS and met with high-ranking government officials, including the minister of Health and Family Welfare, the director general of Health Services and members of the National Disaster Management Authority.

A MONUMENTAL PROBLEM

Both sides have much to gain, Raghavendran explains. India has grown rapidly in recent decades, but its medical infrastructure hasn't kept pace with its increasingly packed highways and byways. Motor vehicle crashes kill more than 150,000 people in India each year, compared with 33,000 in the United States, a country with far more cars and far fewer people. According to the Indian trauma center's web site, someone dies in a traffic accident every two minutes, with two out of five patients perishing because treatment could not be provided in time.

"It's a monumental problem and we're eager to help AIIMS and the government of India develop a network of more than 140 trauma centers around the country," Raghavendran says. "U-M is verified as a Level 1 Pediatric and Adult Trauma Center and a Burn Center by the American College of Surgeons. We're bringing a lot of experience and proven protocols to the table, along with a very robust program of basic and clinical science research."

Michael W. Mulholland, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Surgery and Frederick A. Coller Distinguished Professor of Surgery, says there's no need for India to go through the same growing pains as the United States did when building a national trauma system.

"We're hoping to help them accelerate that process," Mulholland says. "At the same time, India is more than three times as populous as the U.S. and sees a different mix of cases than we see, which presents a great opportunity for research collaboration."

India's medical infrastructure has not kept pace with its growth, and motor vehicle crashes now kill more than 150,000 people in India each year.

A FULFILLING MISSION

The alliance helps fulfill U-M's mission to facilitate health research, education and collaboration with global partners for the benefit of communities worldwide. Along with potential training opportunities for medical students, residents, nurses and doctors in both hemispheres, there are hopes of one day establishing a joint institute for trauma research.

Already, Raghavendran says, U-M has recommended that trauma centers in India adopt protocols to help prevent pneumonia in patients on ventilators and to reduce antibiotic resistance by more narrowly targeting antibiotic use in patients.

"Both sides are very excited about the potential opportunities that may develop from this collaboration," he adds.

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Read about other international partnerships and education initiatives.