Partners in Health: IPCRG

June 6, 2017 at 2:01 pm

The International Primary Care Respiratory Group is a nonprofit network of over 130,000 primary care professionals who are working to diagnose and treat respiratory disease. For over twenty years IPCRG has worked locally and collaborated globally to research and improve lung health. Locally, it brings academic learning into communities in over 30 low-, middle- and high- income countries. Internationally, the charity is active in advocacy, with institutions like the World Health Organization “showing by doing,” and also produces policy and position papers.

Sian Williams is the executive officer, and she helped build the organization from the ground up. Under her co-leadership with a clinical Board of directors, IPCRG has assisted in capacity building, in places like Uganda, the Kyrgyz Republic, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Romania, and Greece. (For example, a European Union funded multi-year implementation science programme is www.freshair.world.)

Frequently, there has been limited specialized training in family medicine in LMICs and even less training in lung health. The organization’s learning programs make a substantial difference in these areas. “We teach teachers and providers on the frontlines of respiratory medicine in these countries,” she says, “and equip them with tools and knowledge, whether they are physicians, nurses, or other health care workers.” A number of IPCRG’s provider education offerings are virtual with online coaching and peer mentoring such as spirometry training to reduce the between-country variation in diagnosis. In Brazil, there has been a highly successful virtual “matrix working” between pulmonologists and primary care on respiratory care: telehealth consulting. Additional outreach includes tobacco dependence and cessation workshops, and indoor air pollution research and education.

Fourteen countries share analysis of primary care datasets of diagnostics and disease management information to understand more about similarities and differences in patient populations in different primary care systems.

Through the years, one of the group’s key takeaways has been the importance of aligning with local health care systems and existing infrastructure to make efforts more sustainable. To this end, IPCRG launched its E-Quality Programme, a series of quality improvement grants, with a platform for participating clinicians to present their evaluations of interventions at the bi-annual world conference or the science meeting in the intermediary year. The group supports member influence in their home countries and member efforts to affect their national agenda, in terms of investment in primary care and access to effective therapies.

“At the heart of health systems is primary care,” says Ms. Williams. “At the end of the day, we are teaching world leaders that investment in health systems to prevent lung disease is an investment worth making.”

 

Learn more about upcoming IPCRG meetings.

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