YRG CARE and Sri Ramachandra Medical University (SRU), Porur, Chennai, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on 13 May 2016 for a long-term collaboration. SRU is an internationally renowned teaching and research institution in medical, dental and other allied health sciences.
The key elements of the collaboration are:
- Joint teaching and research programs (including clinical trials) in various areas such as: HIV disease, HCV disease, General Medicine, Medical Microbiology, Biotechnology, Drug Development, Clinical and Molecular Biology and other areas of basic medical and allied sciences.
- Project work and training at the undergraduate and postgraduate (masters and doctoral levels) to be carried out at both SRU and YRG CARE.
- Jointly conducting conferences, workshops, symposia and other courses.
- Facultydevelopment in fields of mutual interest such asepidemiology including study design, and biostatistics.
- Guest lectures by visiting faculty between the two institutions
A steering committee will guide these joint efforts.
“India is home to somewhere between 10 and 25 million persons with chronic HCV infection. HCV is mostly transmitted through large or repeated exposure to infected blood,injection drug use and tattooing. HCV may also be transmitted through sex with an infected partner or sharing personal items with contaminated bloods but these are less common. Since staff in our organization work in a hospital setting where some of these factors like handling blood and blood products are common, they have a risk for getting HCV infection.
HCV can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer – every year it kills over 500,000 people globally. But it is a curable infection. In the past several years, there have been remarkable developments in the treatment of HCV. Treatment is safe, efficacious and typically involves pills that need to be taken for 12 weeks. With access to these new drugs, the scientific community is now focused on eliminating HCV infection as a public health problem. The challenge is to find people who are infected and then treat them.
Over the past few weeks, I have met with groups from different public and private sector entities to identify strategies to eliminate HCV from select sub-populations in India. It then occurred to me that I was proposing strategies that we had not implemented in our own organization. So, I am pleased to announce that the Board of the YR Gaitonde Medical Educational and Research Foundation has approved a campaign to eliminate HCV from our organization and our families which will take immediate effect.
We will be offering freeand confidential HCV testing at all YRG facilities and anyone who tests positive will be provided follow-up testing and disease staging followed by free treatment for those with chronic infection. Our goal is that everyone will be tested by June 30, 2016 and cured by December 31, 2016. If we can eliminate HCV from our organization, we can set an example for others to follow suit beginning in Chennai, on to Tamil Nadu and beyond. Tamil Nadu and Chennai led the fight against HIV in India setting an example for the rest of the country to follow. For HCV, I believe we have an opportunity to do the same.
This past year has been a difficult one for the Foundation and for me personally. As we as an organization move forward to tackle new public health challenges, we can draw inspiration from the founder of YRGCARE (my mother) who often quoted Loren Eiseley: “It made a difference to this one.” Even if we are able to cure even one person with Hepatitis C, prevent one case of cancer, my hope is that it represents a step in the right direction and will help to spark other such campaigns with large corporate institutions, hospitals, private organizations and public sector entities in Chennai and beyond….”