Energy and engagement in Pakistan

Earlier this month our CEO, Dr Mark Richardson visited the Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF) Affordable Healthcare Workshop in Pakistan.

 

He was joined by our university partners from Lancaster, Sheffield and Leeds to share our expertise in harnessing biofilms with healthcare professionals in the emerging nation and even had an unexpected brush with the President of Pakistan, Arif Alvi, following a dinner invitation to the Presidents house.

The GCRF is a £1.5 billion fund launched by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) in late 2015 to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. These challenges result in funding calls and ahead of an anticipated call involving UK and Pakistan, a three-day workshop was funded in Islamabad.

Dr Mark Richardson, CEO of the NBIC said, “I met scientists from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq and those thinking about science, technology, patient involvement, policy direction and health economics – the energy and engagement was amazing.

The workshop brought together researchers, industry partners and decision makers to create a joint UK-Pakistan programme of expertise to support the translation of clinical, bio materials and biological science to low-cost healthcare products and innovative technologies that could be used locally in Pakistan. This would be particularly by clinics to treat disorders of both soft and hard tissues. Existing products are currently unaffordable imports to most of the population, resulting in avoidable suffering and poor clinical outcomes such as amputations or death.

“Detecting and managing biofilms and infection is a key unmet need – before joining NBIC I worked for 25 years in industry in the wound healing field, so I appreciate how complex and costly current approaches are to solving this problem.”

As a country of over 200m people, Pakistan has a 12% incidence of type 2 diabetes and around 7% of these will have a foot ulcer at risk of infection and possible amputation each year. Our NBIC network has an invaluable knowledge of the relationship between biofilms and diabetic foot ulcers and during the visit we were able to share this at the workshop to support the research into the prevention of these problems in Pakistan.

 

Both the UK and Pakistan’s Governments shared vision is to create affordable high-quality healthcare products in Pakistan via indigenous sustainable resources with direct outcomes on patient healthcare.  A common theme is the design, research and development of low-cost healthcare technologies that are clinically directed and for local need, based on simple cost-effective approaches for improving healthcare and the wellbeing of patients.  

The workshop was a unique opportunity to work in diverse teams, generate new ideas and share best practice, which resulted in some exciting outline projects and as a result of this we’ve now created a virtual working group with connections made during the visit to develop a proposal and we hope to apply for a funding call soon from the GCRF.

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