The Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (JH-IIRU) in the Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health was featured in a ShareAmerica article, the USAID platform intended to disseminate American foreign policy to a global audience. ShareAmerica highlighted the Johns Hopkins-Afghanistan-Pakistan Collaborative Trauma and Injury Research Training (JHU-AfPak-ICTIRT) program, funded by Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health (NIH).

JH-IIRU has been in Pakistan for over a decade, dedicated to improving trauma care and emergency medical services in the area through rigorous training. Partnering with Aga Khan University (AKU), JH-IIRU worked with their Department of Emergency Medicine, established by current JH-IIRU senior technical advisor and professor of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and former collaborator Dr. Junaid Razzak. In the second round of training, JH-IIRU incorporated Khyber Medical University with the goal of promoting trauma and injury research by training a core group of faculty between the two universities.

The grant has been helpful in not only developing individuals and providing opportunities for their growth, but more importantly, it has helped institutional growth at various levels. Directly, the grant led to the development of the first academic department in the field of emergency medicine in the country. The department played the role of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center on Emergency Care. It also provided support to the prehospital emergency care system in the city of Karachi, which in turn impacted hundreds of thousands of patients a year. These larger system changing impacts are critical to population health,” states Dr. Razzak.

The program represents the first doctoral training program on injury research at AKU; by helping AKU to take this next step from masters to doctoral training, JH-IIRU is helping to build capacity in a region with a high burden of death and disability from injuries.

The JHU-AfPak-ICTIRT program aims to do the same in Afghanistan, a country where many live in conflict-affected areas and injury rates are high. The training program provides an alternative to having to fly all the way to high-income countries such as the United States for education, an expensive and often inaccessible trip for many, and also combats the brain drain in the area.

JH-IIRU hopes that research from Pakistan will influence the neighboring region in Afghanistan, and also address the issue of intentional and unintentional violence in the area. The research is driven by individual trainees, who are examining issues such as domestic violence, child injuries and road traffic injuries. One particular mega project currently being conducted is studying the burden of acute injuries and emergency medical care by examining emergency rooms and collecting data from over 3,000 people.

The burden of injury and trauma in both Pakistan and Afghanistan is considerable and keeps on growing. There is a dire need to have both masters and doctoral training with concentrations in injury and trauma. The program we are offering through the Afghanistan-Pakistan International Collaborative trauma and injury research training will help elaborate further the need and sources of data on injuries in developing countries,” states Dr. Nadeem Ullah Khan, JH-IIRU collaborator and associate professor and consultant of emergency medicine at AKU, on the importance of the JHU-AfPak-ICTIRT program.

The programs in Pakistan and Afghanistan reflect a need for prioritizing injuries as a public health burden worldwide, an issue that has been neglected far too often on the global agenda. JH-IIRU’s work culminates in a desire to ensure that injury and trauma are recognized as a health policy issue in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as globally.

For research papers from the grant see: https://bmcemergmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/supplements/volume-15-supplement-2