Showing posts with label National Health Sciences Research Symposium. Show all posts
Showing posts with label National Health Sciences Research Symposium. Show all posts

Monday, November 18, 2019

AMR poses challenge to Pakistan health system, economy

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
Pakistan News & Features Services)

Up to 95 per cent of the population of Pakistan could be carrying bacteria that makes them resistant to life-saving antibiotics, according to the speakers at the inaugural session of the annual National Health Sciences Research Symposium (NHSRS) of the Aga Khan University (AKU) in Karachi. The theme of the 22nd three-day symposium is ‘Antimicrobial resistance: an opportunity to transform global health’.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) happens when microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs. Microorganisms that develop AMR are sometimes referred to as superbugs. 

As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others. 

A recent UN report warned that the threat of AMR can be a global health crisis that could lead to 10 million deaths every year by 2050. Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world, which is expected to rise to fourth place by 2050.

If not managed timely, AMR may lead to a ‘health emergency-like situation’ that might have implications for the country’s health system as well as economy, they said. 

“Antibiotics have been a founding stone of modern medicine. Use of antimicrobials has enabled the implementation of novel treatment modalities such as cardiac bypass surgeries, joint replacements and bone marrow transplants. Management of infectious complications would not have been possible without antibiotics. Spread of resistant bugs is now taking us back in the pre-antibiotic era where advance medical interventions may become compromised,” Rumina Hasan, a professor of microbiology at AKU and chair of the 22nd NHSRS organising committee, remarked. 

“Antimicrobials have also been instrumental in the control of infections in farm animals and in crops, allowing an increase in agricultural output and providing food security. Emergence of antimicrobial resistance threatens this progress,” she added.

Realising that AMR puts the gains of the Millennium Development Goals at risk and jeopardizes achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, WHO instituted a global action plan to tackle AMR in the 68th World Health Assembly in 2015, which was endorsed by all countries including Pakistan. 

Zafar Mirza, Minister of State for Health, Government of Pakistan, and the chief guest on the occasion, expressed his government’s commitment to work with provinces and public and private key stakeholders on the implementation of the National Action Plan for AMR. 

“The misuse and overuse of antimicrobial medicines is fueling resistance worldwide and the Eastern Mediterranean Region is no exception. Drug-resistant infections are estimated to cause at least 700,000 deaths globally each year. Implementation of AMR surveillance, hospital infection prevention and control, and antimicrobial stewardship are extremely important measures to curtail the spread of resistant bugs,” Maha Talaat, WHO EMRO regional coordinator for infection prevention and control, and the keynote speaker, observed.

“Although AMR is a global problem, estimates suggest that 89 per cent of deaths related to AMR in 2050 will occur in Africa and Asia. The UK Government has set up the Fleming Fund to provide the much needed resources to better understand and address AMR. Such Coordinated global actions are required to minimise the emergence and spread of AMR,” Anthony Huszar, South East Asia Regional Coordinator, Fleming Fund, and the keynote speaker, pointed out. 

The AKU President, Firoz Rasul, Deans Adil Haider and David Arthur, and interim CEO of the Aga Khan University Hospital Shagufta Hassan also addressed the symposium and applauded the organisers and participants for highlighting the issue of AMR. 

The NHRS happens to be AKU’s annual ‘flagship’ event that focuses on a health sciences topic relevant to Pakistan and the region. The second and third days of the symposium will cover discussions on animal AMR, antimicrobial use surveillance, food safety, control of antibiotics quality in Pakistan, ‘Ignite’ and several other sessions.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Emerging heart, lung innovations improve treatment options

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The availability of new life-saving techniques in Pakistan promises quicker diagnosis and better treatment options for those suffering from chronic cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, the experts reckoned at the National Health Sciences Research Symposium at the Aga Khan University (AKU). 
Hospitals in Karachi and Islamabad have recently introduced cardiac procedures such as TAVI, transcatheter aortic valve implantation, and EVAR, endovascular aneurysm repair, which were previously only available in leading hospitals in the developed world. 

Both procedures enable the treatment of late-stage patients whose delicate health and advanced symptoms meant that open heart surgery is too risky to pursue. Together, TAVI and EVAR represent a new way to treat complex heart and vascular disease, according to speakers at the three-day conference Heart and Lung: From Prevention to Regeneration. 

“TAVI and EVAR are minimally invasive procedures that require small incisions in the leg rather than opening up a patient’s chest. Pakistan now has a handful of trained specialists who can practice these advanced techniques. The challenge is to understand how to make these treatments more widely available in a cost-effective manner for all our patients,” Dr Osman Faheem, Assistant Professor of cardiology at AKU and an expert in the field of structural heart disease, remarked. 

Specialists in pulmonology, the study of the respiratory system, added that minimally invasive techniques such as video-assisted thoracic surgery and bronchoscopy have brought vast improvements in the quality of care offered to lung cancer patients in the country. 

Both procedures require only tiny cuts to the body and enable surgeons to detect and tackle tumours in a more precise, less painful way for the patient. Pulmonology specialists also discussed developments in how to treat lung cancer without surgery, through radiotherapy and medical regimes.

The results of new stem-cell based therapies for patients suffering from heart failure were also presented at the conference. 

While still at experimental stages, speakers noted that the placement of stem cells into damaged and diseased hearts offered a way to ‘regenerate’ and thereby regain lost function. Improvements in existing technology and diagnostic methodology were also explored. For instance, 3D echos and cardiac MRIs presented a much more detailed picture of the heart to all healthcare providers. 

When combined with 3D printers, they offer the ability to create accurate heart models which provide surgeons and physicians with the best information to tackle chronic and acute heart disease. 

The experts also pointed out the important role played by nurses, working in hospital and community settings, in the care for those suffering with cardiopulmonary diseases. 

In addition to understanding the physical, psychological and social needs through research, nurse practitioners are actively involved in areas such as cardiac rehabilitation and in advising patients on lifestyle changes that will boost their quality of life. 

These were some of the discussions at the event which saw specialists in cardiopulmonary medicine from around the world share cutting edge research and discuss the most effective ways to treat the threat posed by such diseases. 

Special sessions on a wide variety of topics spanning the fields of critical care, basic sciences, cardiothoracic surgery, family medicine and the humanities were also held at the conference. 

Speaking about the goals of the event, the Conference Chair, Professor Saulat Fatemi, said: “Our goal is to establish a range of collaborative projects at the University so that cutting edge research and clinical innovations from around the world can benefit Pakistani patients. To this end, we are setting up collaboration committees with our international speakers so that this conference has a long-term impact.” 

The conference’s objectives are in line with global efforts to achieve targets under goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals: ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. Target 3.4.1 of the goal calls for special efforts to reduce premature deaths caused by cardiovascular conditions by a third by 2030. 

The conference was preceded by a day of workshops at the University’s Centre for Innovation in Medical Education where participants gained advanced skills on state-of-the-art simulators. Over 500 participants were in attendance over the event.