Amrita Hospital, Kochi, Achieves Dual ICMR Recognition as Centre of Excellence in Groundbreaking Snakebite and Paediatric Cardiac Research

The Centre of Excellence for snakebite treatment is the first-of-its-kind centre in the country

MUMBAI / KOCHI, 21st December 2023: Amrita Hospital, Kochi, has earned dual recognition from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for its groundbreaking contributions to venomous snakebite and pediatric cardiac research. This significant acknowledgment establishes the hospital, as a Centre of Excellence in both domains, reinforcing its position as a leader in medical research and a frontrunner in addressing critical healthcare challenges.

The designation of the Centre of Excellence for snakebite treatment by ICMR signifies the creation of the first-of-its-kind centre in the entire country. This distinction is a testament to the team’s exceptional work in therapeutic, preventative, capacity-building, awareness creation, and research aspects related to snakebite. The distinguished team includes Dr. Jaideep Menon, Dr. Bipin Nair, V V Pillay, Gireesh Kumar, T P Sreekrishnan, Sabarish B. Nair, Muralidharan V, and Aravind MS.

Snakebite a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD), is predominantly a rural issue affecting millions across the globe in the Tropics and sub-Tropics, most commonly occupational or accidental. India shares a significant burden, with an estimated 58,000 deaths annually, constituting over half of the global toll. WHO data reveals 4.5 to 5.4 million snakebites yearly, leading to 1.8 to 2.7 million envenomings, with 81,000 to 138,000 victims succumbing to complications and 400,000 developing permanent disabilities. In September 2022, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) initiated a national program for snakebite envenoming prevention and control.

Dr. Jaideep Menon, Professor, Adult Cardiology and Public Health, Amrita Hospital, Kochi, expressing gratitude for the ICMR recognition, stated, “Over 70% of snakebite cases impact males aged 20 to 60, causing severe socio-economic consequences, often resulting in the loss of the family’s primary breadwinner. This distinction motivated our team to intensify our comprehensive approach, including awareness creation, capacity building, and essential research. The Collaborative Centre of Excellence aims to address various aspects related to snakebite envenoming, including developing information, education, and communication (IEC) materials, conducting high-priority research, networking with stakeholders, and providing policy inputs to reduce mortality and morbidity associated with this neglected public health concern.’’

The Collaborative Centre of Excellence aims to research snakebites, build a comprehensive repository on snakes, venom, and treatment, identify mitigation hotspots, collaborate with institutions, conduct awareness-raising research, and contribute to the 2030 SDG target, with a focus on enhancing public health capacity and advocacy. The CCoE aims to generate evidence necessary for laying out the National Program on snakebite in India.

Simultaneously, Amrita Hospital’s Pediatric Heart Program, Kochi also, received the prestigious Centre of Excellence award from ICMR, recognizing its exceptional contributions to pediatric cardiac research. This accolade, granted through a rigorous nationwide application process for collaborating centers of excellence, highlights the program’s outstanding track record in high-quality research, publications, innovations, and mentorship.

Established in 1998, Amrita Hospital’s Pediatric Heart Program demonstrates enduring commitment through groundbreaking research, addressing vital questions in delivering pediatric cardiac care in resource-limited settings. The program’s legacy includes developing cost-effective strategies for managing congenital heart defects, publishing in leading international journals, and conducting impactful community-based studies on pediatric heart disease. Over the years, the program’s dedicated research facility has overseen numerous grant-funded projects, resulting in a rich portfolio of over 200 published papers, fostering a culture of research among trainees who regularly contribute to esteemed international journals.

Dr. R. Krishna Kumar, Clinical Professor and Head of Pediatric Cardiology at Amrita Hospital, Kochi, along with Dr. Mahesh, Clinical Professor of Pediatric Cardiology, expressed, “Accepting the prestigious Centre of Excellence award from DG ICMR for our Pediatric Heart Program at Amrita Hospital fills us with great pride. This recognition underscores our steadfast commitment to advancing pediatric cardiac research. Our dedicated team consistently engages in high-quality research, leading to innovations and impactful publications. This award stands as a testament to our continuous efforts and inspires us to persist in our journey of excellence in pediatric cardiac care.”

The official ceremonies unfolded at the ICMR headquarters in New Delhi, where Director-General Rajeev Behl presented plaques to the distinguished teams. With these two awards, the Centres are actively working on developing pan-India solutions to address these critical health challenges.

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