Brick #4: the difference a lab can make


Pankaj Chaudhary tells the success story of the eye hospital Sagarmatha Choudhary. The hospital started as a small eye unit with only 12 beds in 1983 and has become a specialty eye hospital providing high quality eye services at an affordable cost to the economically poor and under- privileged population in eastern Nepal and Northern India.

Pankay: “In case of Nepal, fungal keratitis remains one of the most prevalent fungal diseases and every year we have around 3-4 thousand cases of fungal keratitis in our hospital setting. In order to diagnose such cases, clinical and Microbiology laboratory setting are essential. In June 2019, in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, we were able to have a well-equipped ocular Microbiology laboratory with culture facility which is considered as a gold standard for the diagnosis. They also have provided us with a confocal microscope for in vivo diagnosis of fungal keratitis, which helps in preliminary findings of patients until the smear and culture reports are ready.

Recently, we had a cornea conference organised on 23 November, 2019 with speakers and delegates related to cornea from UK, Tanzania, India, Uganda, and Nepal and the event was a grand success. This event has helped us to prove ourselves as a research hub for fungal keratitis. Currently, we are conducting a non inferiority trial of 0.2 percent chlorhexidine vs 5 percent Natamycin among patients with fungal keratitis. Hence, we hope the trial to be a successful one and we find an alternative of 5 percent Natamycin that is 0.2 percent chlorhexidine which is quite cheaper and responds quite well with bacterial, fungal, viral and amoebic keratitis.”

This is one of the entries of the microbiology community’s storytelling contest ‘Building Impact Brick by Brick’. Microbiologists can create a positive impact on society – and it’s as simple as building with Lego©: brick by brick. A march for science that changes a country’s conditions for scientists, a local event that helps parents avoid misuse of antibiotics, a citizen science project providing insights you would never see from a clinical setting. Each initiative, each story, each brick helps create awareness, influence policy and develop the conditions to develop and promote our microbiological knowledge, now and for future generations. 

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