August 2007


AIIMS’ step to ensure faster cure of cancers

All India Institute of Medical Sciences(AIIMS) is going to install a new machine imported from the UK, which can help in combating many kinds of cancer in a much better manner. This machine will use an innovative technology called Image Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT), which will concentrate the incidence of radiation directly on the affected tumour and minimise the radiation exposure to the healthy tissues in close proximity to the tumour.

In radiotherapy through the conventional radiotherapy machines, more areas around the tumour are exposed to radiation, thereby affecting the healthy tissues. Through IGRT technology, however, the area around the tumour exposed to radiation will be much less. IGRT technology ensures instant location of the tumour, and concentration of bombardment of radiation directly to the tumour, leaving the surrounding areas relatively harmless. This not only will facilitate a faster and more effective way of eliminating the tumour, but at the same time will reduce the number of complications that have the risk of rearing up during the course of cancer treatment through radiotherapy.

The IGRT technology is especially crucial for the treatment of moving tumours, and can be very much successful in the treatment of prostate cancer, gynaecological tumours, brain tumours, tumours in the head and abdomen, and breast and lung cancer.

IGRT technology is already in usage in many other countries, but in India this technology’s introduction has been a nascent one. However, in India too AIIMS is not the first player to induct this technology for carcinogenic remedies; already some private hospitals in the country are using this technology. But AIIMS will be the first government hospital in the country to introduce this technology. IGRT technology will be in use in AIIMS from sometimes in the later half of this year.

Awake CABG comes in rural India

Recently St. Gregorios Cardio-Vascular Centre in Parumala, which is possibly the first rural cardiology centre in India, achieved the distinction of conducting two awake heart surgeries on two 65- year-old aged patients. Awake heart surgery is a rare surgical feat by any standards, and can serve as a great inspiration to the development of healthcare in rural India. The four member team of doctors, led by Dr. Pankaj Kumar Srivastava, carried out Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG) on the patients, while the patients were awake and chatting. One of the operations was five-hour long, while the other extended to four hours.

According to Dr. Srivastava, heart surgery assumes increasing complication for patients having other diseases like lung ailments and thyroid problems, and thus for those patents Awake Heart Surgery is the preferred option, rather than going in for general anaesthesia or a heart-lung machine. In awake heart surgery, high thoracic epidural anaesthesia (TEA) is being used. Now this milestone in tertiary care has at last been achieved. Just a few hours after the surgery, patients were sipping coffee.

A partnership to tackle the AIDS menace

AIDS has become one of the most critical problems plaguing the Indian healthcare scenario. The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) of the Ministry of Science & Technology and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) have recently signed an agreement to design candidate vaccines for bringing out neutralising antibodies against HIV. A new Indian medicinal chemistry programme, co-sponsored and co-funded by IAVI and the DBT, will be set up. It will be comprising top-notch Indian and US scientists who would be striving with the objective of quickening the pace of discovery of the AIDS vaccine and developing innovative concepts for the next generation of AIDS vaccines. This new partnership is expected to give a fillip to the ongoing efforts in India to find an AIDS vaccine. The Indian programme will complement the work of IAVI’s Neutralising Antibody Consortium (NAC), which comprises a team of internationally recognised scientists, who are tirelessly working on finding the neutralising antibody to AIDS.

A course to Address the acute shortage of CVR professionals

The Asian Heart Institute(AHI) from Mumbai, in collaboration with Chester University from the UK, will start a part time postgraduate certification programme in cardiovascular rehabilitation. The duration of the course will be of six months. The course will not only impart knowledge and research about the latest methods and techniques in cardiovascular rehabilitation prent at international level, but would also provide practical experience about their usage. The course is open for doctors, senior nurses, physiotherapists and. occupational therapists.

Commencing on Sept 2007, the course will be conducted within the AHI premises only, but the faculty will comprise of experts from India and the UK. After successful completion of the course, the students will be awarded a certificate in Cardiovascular Rehabilitation from the University of Chester, UK, an accreditation certificate from the Royal College of Physicians, London and membership of the British Association of Cardiac Rehabilitation. This is the first of its kind of course in India, and would help in the creation of professional CVR practitioners in India in much greater numbers, which is a crying need in the Indian healthcare scenario.

The certificate course comprises three eight-week modules on cardiovascular diseases, treatment and rehabilitation; functional anatomy and physiology of the cardiovascular system; exercise testing, prescription and programming in CVR. Each module will be uated by a 5,000-word hand-written assignment.

ISRO to extend its telemedicine ambit in the public sector

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is envisaging to bring more government hospitals across the country, under the ambit of its telemedicine programme. ISRO’s telemedicine programme aims at connecting the rural and district hospitals in the country with the super-specialty hospitals in the cities through INSAT. Under this satellite network, while ISRO provides the software, hardware and communication equipments as well as satellite bandwidth, the specialty hospitals provide the infrastructure and human resource, and also maintain the system. Presently this telemedicine programme of ISRO covers 165 hospitals – 132 district/rural hospitals, which are connected to 33 super-specialty hospitals. ISRO has also established Village Resource Centres in association with NGOs, trusts, and state and central agencies, and has also developed eight mobile healthcare units. Four of them are in Tamil Nadu, while two each are in Kerala and Karnataka.

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