India is among the countries in the developing world where acute stroke treatment is a challenge. The use of intravenous thrombolytic therapy for stroke is less than 3 percent in these countries, and stroke services are not well developed.
In 2011, the department of neurology at the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS), a tertiary care neurology centre, launched its comprehensive stroke programme, becoming the only government institute in the region to provide thrombolytic therapy for acute stroke. As the number of patients reaching the hospital’s emergency department within the therapeutic window was however low, IHBAS launched the Saving the Brain initiative in East Delhi. Funded by the World Federation of Neurology (WFN), the initiative aimed to increase awareness of thrombolysis in acute stroke management among general physicians, healthcare workers and in the community.
Under the initiative, an intensive sensitisation and education programme was rolled our for general physicians, resident doctors and paramedic staff at government hospitals in East Delhi, including interactive sessions on referring patients to higher level centres for stroke management. Community awareness efforts included educating the public about stroke symptom recognition using the FAST concept, and the distribution of fact sheets in both Hindi and English.
The impact was significant. Thanks to these awareness initiatives and the hub and spoke method created in East Delhi by IHBAS neurology chief Dr Suman Kushwaha and her team, the thrombolysis rate more than doubled to between 5 and 7 percent.
In 2018, a partnership with Angels strengtened the Saving The Brain initiative. Angels consultant Deepti Sawhney helped the hospital evaluate its stroke pathway and protocol, and facilitated training for medical and paramedic staff, including stroke certification training for stroke nurses and CT technicians. She also encouraged the hospital to enrol with the stroke care quality registry RES-Q, and trained stroke nurse Sonal on data entry protocols, which lead to IHBAS to date becoming the winner of six WSO Angels Awards.
Late in 2022 Dr Nora El Nawawi, Angels team leader for India, the Middle East and Africa, paid a visit to IHBAS, which included a walkthrough of the stroke pathway and a pathway simulation. During the visit, IHBAS director Dr R.N. Dhamija also congratulated Dr Dr Kushwaha on being nominated for a 2022 WSO Angels Spirit of Excellence Award, which honours outstanding individuals for their commitment to raising the standard of treatment in their hospitals and communities.
Excellence continues to be the watchword at IHBAS, with the hospital winning its second diamond award for 2022 Q4.