It was at this time last year that six WFSA-Baxter Scholars were preparing to travel to Kathmandu, Nepal to attend the 11th SAARC-AA Congress. The three day event consisted of guest lectures, oral paper presentations, poster presentations and discussions. Large numbers of local and foreign delegates attended the Congress and had the opportunity to gain new knowledge, share their experience, meet colleagues in the region, and establish new relationships.
One year on, we spoke to two of the WFSA-Baxter Scholars, Dr Anuja Pandit and Dr Kamath Sriganesh (both from India), to find out what impact the Scholarship had on their lives and careers.
“I was fortunate to be selected along with 5 other scholars for the WFSA-Baxter award to attend the SAARC-AA congress in Kathmandu last February-March. Personally for me, the opportunity to interact with international delegates and speakers was the most interesting and valuable part,” explained Dr Sriganesh.
“The opportunity to present my research work to an international platform was a first. I had great company in my co-Scholars from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, allowing me to learn about the challenges faced and innovations to overcome them.
It gave me an immense confidence boost to share my ideas and work with international audience. That would be the biggest takeaway. I made friends with whom I discuss professional work even today. It opened up new avenues for me.”
We asked Dr Sriganesh what he had been working towards since returning to India and learned
that he was inspired by the innovations he saw at the SAARC-AA Congress and the impact new designs could have on anaesthesia care in India.
“I have since designed a low cost cuff pressure gauge as an alternative to the costlier commercial models. The innovations that I saw there helped me pursue this work further when I returned to India," Dr Sriganesh was delighted to tell us.
"The impact of cuff pressure gauges are well reported in literature. In the OR, it facilitates monitoring and managing accurate delivery of inhalation anaesthetics and ventilation/oxygenation by preventing leaks. In the ICU, regular monitoring of cuff pressure reduces the incidence of VAP, tracheomalacia and mucosal injury.
The cost of a commercial cuff pressure gauge, the one we have in the department, Portex, is roughly INR 13000. The simple yet equally effective cuff I have designed costs about INR 500. If more of these are available we could use them in every OR and ICU. That is the idea behind this project. I am waiting to get some funds to get this going, though!”
Dr Anuja Pandit was similarly inspired by her experience at the Congress.
“This scholarship has gifted me with more than I had wished for. So early in my career, Baxter allowed me the prestige of being accompanied by expert anaesthetists and brilliant researchers, who are committed to making a difference by educating budding anaesthetists like me, to a great Conference. They encouraged us to send in papers of case reports and research studies and share our experiences,” she explained.
“The opportunity to learn about various resource-stratified innovations being developed worldwide has inspired me. Since I have returned from Nepal, I am now passionately committed to advancing research in cancer and anaesthesiology. I was also selected to train and specialise in the field of Oncoanaesthesiology, which is new to India.”
And what other lasting impacts did the SAARC-AA Congress have on Dr Pandit and her colleagues?
“I travelled and made new friends from different countries and together we all hope to be able to help each other. My fellow scholars taught me about the challenges they face in their practice. They helped me understand the need for innovation and research for low resource settings to benefit patients in developing countries,” she shared.
“Back in India, I kept in touch with my fellow scholars through social media and in person, and we are all proud and fortunate to be doing very well in our profession. Dr David Wilkinson (WFSA President) and Dr Jannicke Mellin-Olsen (WFSA Deputy Secretary) have always expressed their delight when I have informed them about my achievements. They are role models and have truly been an inspiration.
Scholarships such as the Baxter scholarship are tremendously beneficial. Not only do they educate the Scholars, but they also give them the determination to go home and overcome financial constraints. Such opportunities also show the need for research and innovation in low-resource settings. I look forward to more of such opportunities and hope to meet the WFSA team again.
Thank you Baxter and thank you WFSA. I feel so proud to be a part of the journey you have charted out for young learners like me. You are impact makers… leaving anaesthesiologists much more confident to go back to their countries and take the lead.”
-- Dr Anuja Pandit
To find out more about WFSA-Baxter Scholarships open for application, please click here.