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Maharashtra takes the first step in emergency medical care

Last updated on: June 17, 2013 14:54 IST

 After nearly a decade of a sustained campaign to set up trauma centres in India, Dr Navin Shah, a Maryland urologist and former president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, has finally got the green light from the Maharashtra government to launch a training programme for Indian surgeons.
This week, he will lead a team of top American trauma surgeons to Mumbai, including one of the country’s best, Dr Thomas Scalea, chief trauma surgeon at the University of Maryland’s R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Centre.

Dr Scalea will conduct seminars and training programmes for Indian surgeons. He will also discuss hospital-visits, infrastructure and related facets of Trauma Care and Emergency Medical Services.
During the visit, the team will also offer two full-paid scholarships, with air fare included, to two Indian surgeons from US trauma centres to visit the US for a week-long training programme. The scholarships are being offered by the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Centre and the Wake Forest Trauma Centre.
Besides Dr Scalea, the team will comprise Dr Amy N Hildreth, assistant professor of surgery, Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Dr Manjari Joshi, associate professor of medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Maryland and its Shock Trauma Centre, who works closely with Dr Scalea.
Additional Chief Secretary of Maharashtra government’s Public Health Department T C Benjamin, in inviting the US team, said that nearly 40 of the state’s surgeons and physicians of other specialties who work in EMS are expected to participate.
Benjamin, while thanking the US team for coming over to train the Indian surgeons and other physicians, said the state stood to benefit by their “deep and varied experience in trauma care, which will be of immense use to us at this juncture when we are about to launch Emergency Medical Services in the state of Maharashtra.’
In his missive to each member of the US team, made available to, Benjamin said, “My department has embarked on the Maharashtra Emergency Medical Services Project and I am expecting the first ambulance to be on the road by the third week of July 2013.”
Dr Shah said that such a training programme would “provide a platform for Maharashtra trauma centres to interact and get assistance from the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Centre in the areas of research, CME (continuing medical education), joint projects, etc.”
He said the announcement by Benjamin of the initiation of the EMS and Trauma Centres in Mumbai would be the “phase one” because it would be “amalgamating expertise and services of 24 Mumbai hospitals -- four medical college hospitals, government and municipal hospitals, and 10 major private hospitals.”
“Later, hopefully the services will cover the entire Maharashtra state,” he added, “and our ultimate goal is to use this as the template for these American-like EMS and trauma centers all across India.”
He also lauded Dr Shah, saying that “his passion and zeal for this project is obvious, and I simply could not say no.”
The Delhi-born Joshi, , who has been with the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Centre for the past 30 years, said, “The vision of STC along with my personal goal has been that every individual on this planet should receive the best trauma care.”
“So many Indian nationals succumb from trauma and inability to receive adequate trauma care. It is heartening to note that the state government of Maharashtra has committed itself to initiating organised trauma care and thereby helping the citizens of Maharashtra,” he said.
Dr Joshi,  who received her MBBS from AIIMS, New Delhi, said, “Most Indians have had a personal encounter with some kind of trauma which has left a lasting impressing on all of us Indian Americans. This problem affects every household in some way or other and unfortunately strikes the core population of India -- young men, who are the bread winners of the family.”
Joshi said, “This is why this mission is very important to us. Even with a tight economy and major time constraints, we are still willing to invest our time, money and tremendous effort to the success of developing the trauma programme in Maharashtra,” she said.

Aziz Haniffa In Washington, DC