YPL alumni return to WHS 2017

YPL alumni at WHS

The seventh edition of the IAP Young Physicians Leaders (YPL) leadership training workshop took place on the side of this year’s World Health Summit in Berlin. Twenty-two new YPL from 17 countries participated and then joined the alumni network that now counts more than 150 young physicians.

Two alumni from the 2016 YPL cohort were also invited to attend the WHS.

M. Tasdik Hasan from Bangladesh presented in a poster on ‘Exploring mental health services among climate-victims in a cyclone affected area of coastal Bangladesh’ and received a ‘New Voices in Global Health 2017’ award from the Summit organizers.

Following a series of interviews carried out in a cyclone-affected village with limited access to mental health services, medical authorities identified various mental health disorders, including depersonalization, withdrawal, hopelessness and depression. There is a need for effective implementation of mental health policies in the aftermath of such disasters conclude Hasan and his co-authors, as well as in regular public health practices.

Kalana Prasad Maduwage from Sri Lanka was invited to participate in a session on ‘The Beauty of Impact’. He was one of 14 speakers who gave short, focused presentations on how their work is having – or could potentially have – a huge impact on the lives of thousands of people. Growing up in Sri Lanka, Maduwagebecame fascinated by snakes. And as a medical doctor and researcher, he has dedicated his career to dealing with the effects of snakebites that kill up to 100,000 people a year, many of them smallholder farmers working in the fields.

The problem in Sri Lanka – and elsewhere – is two-fold: not only are supplies of anti-venom expensive to maintain, especially in a country where many different snake species are found, but using the wrong anti-venom can also lead to serious complications. Maduwage, therefore, set out to identify marker molecules that could be easily and rapidly detected in envenomated individuals and that can distinguish between the patient who needs antivenom treatment and patients suffering from other causes. He was successful, too, isolating an enzyme, phospholipase A2, that accurately identifies envenomated patients and thus allows them to be treated correctly.

The next step, says Maduwage, is to develop a diagnostic test system, ‘Snake Rapid’, that would work rather like a pregnancy testing kit. Such a system should not only be cheap, but will be simple to use and give rapid results at the bedside in what, in most cases of envenomation, is a race against time.