Dr Chris Rolles, now President, CHI, after visiting the Republican Children’s Hospital, Moscow in early 1993, decided that there was much he could do to improve the treatment regime in Moscow. A 3 year collaborative project was set up between the Moscow CF service and Southampton, 1993-96.
A child born with cystic fibrosis in the UK had a life expectancy of 25; in Moscow, 11. The UK emphasised sustaining children’s good health through out-patient monitoring, whereas funding for care in Russia depended on CF hospitalisations, disincentivising prevention.
Doctors were dominant, and CF families ineffectual in advocating for better standards of care. Care in the UK averaged $15k/year (including e.g. lung transplants); this project set a target of $1k/year for Moscow, prioritising early diagnosis (through neonatal screening) and prevention (no passive smoking, regular out-patient clinics, meticulous health records, tailored dietary advice and specialised physiotherapy) by which it is possible to achieve 80-90% ‘wellbeing’ for <10% of UK costs.
At that time, there was no Zoom, Skype and it was early days for emails. The collaboration relied on regular face to face contact and so there was much travel between Moscow and Southampton. “Comradeship” (to use a Soviet term!) grew warmly between the two teams – Dr Chris Rolles, Judi Maddison (Nurse specialist) and the Moscow team led by Professors Nikolai Kapranov and Natasha Kashirskaya, which flourished for over 25 years. Friendship flourished in part because it became the norm to stay in each others’ houses/ flats. Professor Kapranov sadly died on 8th March 2021 from Covid 19 infection.
Partial funding was given by Solvay Pharmaceuticals, now merged into Abbott.