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ANZICS Global Intensive Care Initiative (GICI)

The ANZICS Global Intensive Care Initiative, established in late 2020, unites ICU clinicians specializing in resource-limited areas. With over 100 members globally, the initiative operates through three regional working groups fostering collaboration and idea exchange. Membership is expanding, and all interested individuals, regardless of their global health experience, are encouraged to reach out to Alana Karathanasis (Project Manager) at alana.karathanasis@anzics.org for inquiries or expressions of interest.

 

The Working Group is headed by Cath Tacon, with intensivists, Gerard Moynihan and Lewis McLean, as group leads. The initiative has placed a major focus on the Pacific & PNG, our close neighbours and has been involved in several projects to support the region, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

University of Papua New Guinea – Higher Level Post Graduate Diploma of Intensive Care Medicine

Bruce Lister (Paediatric Intensivist) has led a project which developed a course that has allowed PNG medical doctors to obtain Post Graduate qualifications in Intensive Care.

ICU commissioning at Lae, Papua New Guinea

The GICI has been instrumental in the commissioning of the ICU at Angau Memorial Hospital, with an ongoing clinical support program underway along with the development of Clinical Practice Guidelines being delivered early 2024.

BASIC & Critical Care ultrasound training in PNG

In 2023, the GICI delivered five successful courses in PNG including a range of BASIC courses and the inaugural PEARLS Critical Care ultrasound training course, which had previously been run only in an Emergency and Acute Care context in several other Pacific nations.

Telehealth education in PNG

A/Prof Steve McGloughlin and Dr. Cath Tacon have developed and led the telehealth education program. This involves weekly meetings and bidirectional learning with critical care clinicians in PNG.

Master of Medicine – Intensive Care Medicine, Fiji National University

The Master of Medicine in Intensive Care Medicine (MMED ICM), introduced by FNU in 2022, has been instrumental in facilitating the professional development of anaesthetists throughout the Pacific region. This program is designed to impart advanced knowledge and skills in Critical Care, enabling participants to emerge as experts capable of assuming leadership roles in the establishment and administration of Intensive Care services across the entire region.

Volunteer Placements

GICI have been instrumental in facilitating the deployment of skilled intensivists to volunteer in-country across the Pacific. In 2023, two intensivists were sent to Fiji to assist Dr Elizabeth Bennett in the ICU at Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva and in 2024 GICI have arranged for another two intensivists to be deployed to Tonga to supervise a clinician completing their MMED ICM. We are always looking for volunteers so please reach out to our Project Manager Alana (alana.karathanasis@anzics.org) for more information.

The Working Group is headed by Irma Bilgrami, with David Ku and Eamon Raith as group leads.

 

India

The COVID pandemic in India has caused devastation on an unimaginable scale and touched the lives of many Australians, including our colleagues. At the height of the pandemic, Dr. David Ku, the SIG’s Asia group lead, brought together a group of Intensivists with strong ties to India. Through the efforts of this group, we identified the best way to assist at the time through donations, identified channels for tele-health support and approached the Indian critical care societies with our support. Ongoing telehealth support via existing networks is being provided (www.bapio.co.uk).

Pakistan

During the APICSS Singapore gathering (Asia Pacific Intensive Care Symposium) in 2023, connections were fostered between GICI members and intensivists from Asia, leading to sustained collaboration. Additionally, two GICI members were extended invitations to serve as external examiners for the Critical Care Examination by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan in Islamabad. This engagement has subsequently led to another invitation to conduct the Beyond Basic Mechanical Ventilation course in Karachi in February 2024 and to deliver a presentation during a plenary session at their Anaesthesia Annual Scientific Meeting.

The working group is headed by John Botha, with co-leads Reena Patel and Mark Nicholls, with significant progress having been made in the East Africa region. It is envisaged that the role of GICI in supporting intensive care education and research in Africa will increase, with significant opportunities becoming available to which GICI members may contribute.

 

Tanzania

Dr Reena Patel has been delivering distance telehealth education to both Emergency and Critical Care colleagues in Arusha, Tanzania. Through this relationship with our Tanzanian counterparts GICI members were invited to deliver a BASIC instructor and provider course in January 2024. The course was well attended with regional representation from across the country. Aside from the education provided, new professional relationships were established, and invitations were extended to return to teach in several units around Tanzania. John Botha and Reena Patel subsequently attended the Arusha Emergency Medicine Conference with Dr Botha presenting on ventilation strategies over the past two decades. The course organisers were most appreciative of the GICI representation and have requested ongoing GICI involvement and support in further conference planning. It was evident from the visit that there are many opportunities for collaborative research with such initiative already established with visiting North American research mentors.

The working group is headed by Michael Reade and Eamon Wraith.

 

ICU research is vital for informing clinical practice and ensuring patient safety. However, conducting such research can be exceptionally challenging, particularly in low-resourced settings where there may be a lack of resources, training, funding, or time due to high clinical workloads. This disparity can lead to further inequality in access to evidence-based therapies.

Recognizing these challenges, the ANZICS Global Intensive Care Initiative is establishing a Research Support Group (RSG). This group aims to provide mentorship and support to researchers in low-resourced settings, enabling them to lead locally relevant studies addressing critical care needs. The RSG, led by a committee similar to the ANZICS Clinical Trials Group and the Centre for Outcome and Resource Evaluation, will assess the scientific merit and feasibility of proposed studies. Australian and New Zealand academics will then be recruited to offer mentorship and support, potentially referring projects to other ANZICS research groups.

It’s important to note that while the RSG will not provide funding, it will facilitate connections with experienced researchers who can assist in developing funding applications. This initiative seeks to empower researchers in low-resourced settings and reduce disparities in critical care access.

Meanwhile, global health research efforts, exemplified by projects like Dr. Anja Hentschke’s “The Indo-Pacific Critical Care Delivery Survey,” aim to strengthen regional health security. This survey, initiated in early 2024, seeks to identify intensive care capacity in low- and lower-middle-income countries in the Indo-Pacific region. By understanding the existing resources and needs, this project aims to inform future healthcare planning and responses to regional health challenges.

Looking ahead, 2023 saw significant progress in establishing the RSG and defining its scope through the development of Terms of Reference. The coming year holds promise for the ANZICS/CICM Global Intensive Care Initiative as it embarks on its mission to advance critical care research globally.

 

 

We are always looking for new and innovative ways to create value in the global health sphere. Please contact Alana Karathanasis (Project Manager) at alana.karathanasis@anzics.org to reach out about potential opportunities and to explore current projects and ways to contribute.

Ways you can get involved:

  • Join GICI as an instructor and teach a course or provide Critical Care ultrasound training across the Indo-Pacific region!
  • Volunteer in Fiji through Australian Volunteers International (AVI) with Dr Lisa Bennett in either Suva or Lautoka. If you have availability for 3-12 months in 2024, please contact Alana Karathanasis, the GICI Project Manager at alana.karathanasis@anzics.org.
  • Do you have a special interest in research? Contact raith@adelaide.edu.au to find out how you can get involved.
  • Innovation is key, so please reach out with any suggestions or potential opportunities!

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GICI Leadership
Lewis McLean
Lewis McLean Chair/PNG Co-Lead
George Zhou
George Zhou Deputy Chair
Irma Bilgrami
Irma Bilgrami Asia Lead
David Ku
David Ku Asia Co-Lead
Eamon Raith
Eamon Raith Asia Co-Lead & Research Lead
Michael Reade
Michael Reade Research Lead
John Botha
John Botha Africa Lead
Mark Nicholls
Mark Nicholls Africa Co-Lead
Cath Tacon
Cath Tacon Pacific & PNG Lead
Gerard Moynihan
Gerard Moynihan Pacific and PNG Co-Lead
Tom Niccol
Tom Niccol MSF Lead
Kirsten Bond
Kirsten Bond MSF Lead
Alana Karathanasis
Alana Karathanasis Project Manager