World Immunology Day Conference, Chandigarh 2023
Sarita Workman Royal Free Hospital, London, UK and Emily Carne Cardiff and Vale UHB, Wales, UK were delighted to be invited to India by Professor Surjit Singh, Dr P Vigness and CNS Ruchi Saka at the Centre for Advanced Paediatric Care in Chandigarh, to the World Immunology Day conference, Chandigarh 2023, as representatives of the International Nurses Group for Immunodeficiency (INGID). The visit was arranged principally to introduce nurses to INGID, advanced nurse practice and to train both health care professionals and patients in the skills and knowledge required to give subcutaneous immunoglobulin.
We were lucky to have a couple of days before the conference to get acclimatised, we visited the University of Nursing, Chandigarh where we had a tour of the university and met the principal and deputy principal of the University and discussed INGID, advanced practice, Immunodeficiencies and treatments. It was an absolute pleasure to have a tour and learn about the nursing educational systems in India.
It was amazing to meet them, along with some wonderful nursing students, who were attending pre-registration and Masters degree courses. Despite working with facilities that could be considered basic when compared with some other countries, the staff and pupils at the college demonstrated remarkable knowledge and clinical skills and incredible enthusiasm and commitment towards the nursing profession. It was an honour to meet everyone.
We also had the opportunity to visit the hospital and to visit the labs and infusion area. We were shown cutting edge laboratory equipment, including flow cytometry and on-site next generation sequencing . As nurses from the UK it must be said it was very humbling, the hospital may not have all the facilities that we have in other centres however, the care that is given is inspirational. Just one example from many was the food vans outside of the hospital providing free food to patients and families attending the hospital.
The patients that we met at during our visit were considered the lucky ones; many other people lack access to basic medication and healthcare and even fewer are able to access to specialised care. Even when treatments are available in India, most patients cannot always afford the associated costs. We were fascinated to learn about the advances made in HSCT and understand how clinical decisions can alter according to the healthcare systems in which they are made. Healthcare decisions and risk management are given a completely different context when comparing the implications of lifelong treatment versus a curative treatment.
At the conference we had an INGID stand which was very well received and attended.
I presented the role of INGID in PID care, Advanced role of the nurse and raising patient awareness. Emily presented about Intravenous and Subcutaneous Immunoglobulin replacement therapy with a practical demonstration session, and both chaired several sessions on both days.
It was fascinating to learn about the different challenges to provision of specialised healthcare in countries with a reduced budget and no National Health Service. We left India, feeling humbled by the amazing skill, expertise and resilience shown by staff and patients alike, but also full of hope for the patients; understanding that everyone we met in this vibrant country is enthusiastically taking on the challenge of providing the very best healthcare that their limited resources allow.
It was an amazing opportunity and experience; many questions were asked on both days and the attendance was very impressive. There was much interest for Subcutaneous Immunoglobulin (SCIG) infusions, outside of Asia we may consider SCIG part of routine practice however, in some countries they may not even have treatments that we take for granted.
We were very well received in India and had a. truly inspiring visit and hope that INGID will be invited to attend again and continue to work together with this inspirational centre.
Sarita Workman and Emily Carne