Thanks to the sustained effort of an Indian-American surgeon who has been pushing for this project for over four years, Mumbai will soon be the beneficiary of emergency medical services and trauma centres based on the US template.
This was decided at a meeting of senior Maharashtra state government officials, Mumbai city officials and the US consul general at the Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai recently. The meeting was convened by Dr Navin Shah, one of the founders and former president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin -- arguably the largest and most influential international medical organisation in the United States.
Shah, a Maryland-based urologist, is the medical education director at the Metropolitan Urologic Institute and also a former president of The American College of International Physicians.
Among other things, this project envisages one dedicated emergency number -- like the 911 number in the US -- and a command centre for hospitals manned around the clock, backed by fully-equipped ambulances.
Consequently, patients will be immediately treated at the accident site, during transport in the ambulance and at the receiving hospitals with specially designed trauma centres, manned 24/7 by emergency physicians and surgeons.
At the meeting that was attended by Azeez Khan, the Principal Health Secretary, Government of Maharashtra, Dr S Damle, Mumbai Municipal Health Commissioner, Dr Paresh Navalkar of Ambulance Services, US Consul General Michael Owen, and several CEOs of private hospitals led by Pramod Lele of Hinduja Hospitals, it was unanimously resolved to initiate Phase 1 of the EMS and TC project by June 1 of this year and to request the Maharashtra government and the Mumbai Municipal Corporation to provide 10 fully-equipped ambulances each within the next six months.
Owen promised that the US Consulate would provide one ambulance on behalf of the US government. The project will involve four medical college hospitals, 10 major private hospitals in Mumbai, and over a dozen government and municipal hospitals that will be supplemented by facilities that specialise in burns, rehabilitation and pediatrics.
A board of directors and an executive committee was also elected, with a prominent thoracic surgeon Dr G B Daver, formerly Dean of J J Hospital and currently the medical director of Hinduja Hospital, elected chairman of the executive committee. The executive committee has the mandate of coordinating with all participating hospitals, and devising a plan to initiate the project from June. Shah and Dr S Balasubramanium, the president of AAPI -- which has given its blessings to the project -- and a trauma surgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles medical centre, were to serve as the US representatives on the executive committee.
Image: Dheeraj Hinduja (right), trustee of the Hinduja National Hospital, presents flowers to Dr Navin Shah.
Text: Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC