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The University of Warwick is helping the Indian state of Kerala redevelop its healthcare system.

Kerala is experiencing an increase in non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and a rapidly aging population and an increase in migrant workers. To address this Kerala’s government is planning to establish training programmes to teach primary care workers such as GPs and nurses.

Kerala’s Minister of Health and Social Justice, Mrs KK Shylaja Kumari, led the delegation to learn from the experience of the NHS how the GP system has adapted to pressures caused by population changes.
The Dean of Warwick Medical School, Professor Sudhesh Kumar said: “We are delighted to host the honourable minister for health of the government of Kerala and her team as they seek to understand how we are tackling issues such as addressing capacity development for primary care, translating research into practice and evaluating the impact of these interventions. We look forward to mutually beneficial collaborations with the State of Kerala.”

The five-strong group included Mr Rajeev Sadanandan, additional chief secretary to government, health and family welfare department, Dr Sarita RL director of health services, Dr Harikumar Nair the dean of Kerala University of Health Sciences and Dr Devkiran of the mission monitoring team of the chief minister of Kerala State.

The team from Kerala also visited University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust and local general practices in Coventry city centre along with local clinicians and members of the academic unit for primary care at Warwick Medical School. They are also exploring opportunities for collaboration with the University of Warwick for training and research.

The two-day event which took place from 23-24 October included talks about areas of training and research being conducted at Warwick Medical School such as health issues in urban settlements, primary care and mental health resource in India, GP training and postgraduate training.

The tour of University Hospital included a visit to the Surgical Training Centre, which provides training to Warwick Medical Students, as well as specialised training to experienced surgeons.

Professor Meghana Pandit, Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of UHCW NHS Trust, said: “I was delighted to meet the honourable minister and her team, and to show them the wonderful facilities we have at University Hospital, including our Surgical Training Centre, Arden Cancer Centre and Emergency Department. We are proud of our partnership with the University of Warwick, and look forward to building closer links with Kerala as part of their collaborative work with the government.”

Brief biographies

Mrs KK Shylaja Kumari: Cabinet Minister for Health & Social Justice, Government of Kerala, India. She is a senior political leader and a third term elected member of the Kerala Legislative Assembly. Under her leadership Kerala continues to make steady progress and leads the table on low maternal and infant mortality rates in comparison with other Indian states. Under the ambitious ‘Ardram’ scheme, primary health centres are being converted to family health centres in a phased manner with facilities for laboratory investigations in addition to providing primary coronary intervention and dialysis facilities at all district headquarters hospitals.

Mr Rajeev Sadanandan IAS is an Indian bureaucrat, healthcare policy maker and senior officer in the Kerala cadre of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) since 1985. He has been working and researching in the area of health systems, policy and financing for over two decades. He has been involved with the health system of the state of Kerala and has been active in health sector reforms in the state. He is currently serving as the Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Kerala taking care of the Department of Health and Family Welfare.

Dr Saritha RL is a senior Paediatrician, graduated from Government Medical College, Calicut, India, completed her higher training in Paediatrics and has served the Kerala Health service since 1991 currently as the Director of Health services. The directorate of health services under her stewardship plays a central role in delivering health services to a population of 35 million

Dr Harikumar Nair joined the Kerala government service in 1994 as Lecturer in Radiodiagnosis, served as Professor and Head of Department in the Government Medical Colleges at Trivandrum and Alappuzha, currently serves as Dean(Research) at the Kerala University of Health Sciences (KUHS)

Dr Devkiran trained in Psychiatry in Glasgow, returned to India and underwent further training in community oncology and palliative care at the Regional Cancer centre in Trivandrum. He joined the Kerala Government service in 2010, currently serving as Assistant Director of health services and is a member of the monitoring team of the ‘Navakerala’ mission operating from the office of the Honorable Chief Minister of Kerala

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