There is a critical shortage of practicing doctors and medical educators in Mozambique, where the life expectancy is less than 42 years and the rate of HIV infection in adults is 16%. Now, UCSD is teaming with the nation’s flagship medical school to create a long-term solution.
Mozambique’s Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) and UCSD have won a five-year, $12.5-million award from the U.S. Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI). The project will strengthen the nation’s medical education system by building infrastructure in several ways.
“We hope this will be a demonstration project for the rest of Africa.”
— Dr. Robert Schooley
UEM’s principal investigator is Emilia Virginia Noormahomed, M.D., Ph.D., a former dean of the UEM School of Medicine. Dr. Noormahomed (pictured at left) is now Assistant Professor of Parasitology at UEM and Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCSD.
Sam Patel, M.D., Professor of Medicine at UEM and UCSD, is a co-investigator. In the photo below, he is pictured on the right.
MEPI is a joint initiative of the National Institutes of Health and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Under the MEPI program, UEM receives the bulk of the funding and uses it to build capacity in medical training, research, and technology.
A smaller amount of funding comes directly to UCSD, supporting time and travel for the partners and mentors who will help UEM meet its goals.
“This is an experiment in medical education for UEM and for the U.S. government,” said Robert “Chip” Schooley, M.D., who is coordinating the UCSD side of the project. “It puts the funding into the hands of the African universities and allows them to invest it in ways that are beneficial to them.”
“I’m hopeful this will become a model for other kinds of aid,” he said.
Dr. Schooley and colleague Constance Benson, M.D., have long experience in partnering with Mozambique and other African nations, and they have collaborated with Dr. Noormahomed in research projects for several years. Dr. Benson is Professor of Medicine, Director of the UCSD Antiviral Research Center, and Director of the Fellowship Program in Infectious Diseases.
UCSD’s visiting faculty and residents have helped UEM adopt academic medical practices such as morning report and teaching conferences that strengthen the educational program.
MEPI biomedical informatics team members at October conference at UEM in Maputo.
The MEPI partnership relies heavily on biomedical informatics to accomplish its goals. This component of the program is led by Lucila Ohno-Machado, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine and Chief of UCSD’s Division of Biomedical Informatics. The division will provide expertise for the partnership’s information technology projects.
Smartphones and iPad mobile digital devices have been deployed on the wards at Maputo Central Hospital, UEM’s primary teaching hospital and the only tertiary care center in Mozambique. With these devices, the Mozambican doctors are able for the first time to consult online medical literature at a patient’s bedside. Soon they will have immediate access to data generated by the hospital’s clinical laboratories.
“These efforts really have changed the character of the residency program at Maputo Central Hospital,” said Dr. Schooley.
Elaine Muchmore, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Director of the UCSD Internal Medicine Residency Training Program, will work closely with UEM to strengthen and expand the Mozambican training programs.
Through training and partnership with UCSD, UEM will also increase its capacity to do operational, epidemiological, translational and clinical research. Another program goal calls for UEM to set up a biomedical informatics infrastructure and connect with SEACOM, the new fiber optic broadband internet service in South and East Africa.
UEM will also take steps to enhance its support of two new medical schools recently established by the Mozambican government in Nampula and Tete. These two new medical schools were launched in the past 3 years to address the profound shortage of physicians in the country.
Another key UCSD figure in the project is Stephen Bickler, M.D., who will work to improve the nation’s surgical capacity in rural areas via a linked MEPI project, “UEM-UCSD Surgery Partnership.” Dr. Bickler is Associate Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics.
A number of other UCSD faculty members will contribute to the MEPI effort as well.
Above left, a medical school class at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane. Right, UCSD internal medicine resident Dr. Bethany Karl on rotation at UEM’s Maputo Central Hospital in Mozambique.
Project leaders expect to double the number of graduating doctors in Mozambique in the next 10 years. They also hope to inspire more doctors to devote their careers to medical education.
With a greater number of highly-trained doctors and a better infrastructure to support them, Mozambique will increase its capacity to deliver health care to its citizens and to fill the faculties of two new medical schools in Nampula and Tete.
The doctors training today in Mozambique will be the specialists, medical school faculty members, and government Ministry of Health policymakers of the future.
“We hope this will be a demonstration project for the rest of Africa,” Dr. Schooley said.
Dr. Emilia Virginia Noormahomed, co-principal investigator on the UCSD-UEM MEPI project. Photo courtesy of William M. Detmer, M.D., M.Sc.
Dr. Bill Detmer, left, demonstrates iPad mobile digital device preloaded with medical programs for doctors’ use in the hospital. Dr. Manuel Joaquim Tomás is at center and Dr. Sam Patel at right. Sam Patel, M.D., co-investigator on the MEPI project, is Professor of Medicine at UEM and UCSD. William M. Detmer, M.D., M.Sc., a MEPI project consultant, is Assistant Adjunct Professor of Clinical Informatics at the University of Virginia and President and Chief Executive Officer of Unbound Medicine. Photo courtesy of Dr. Detmer.
M. Wilson Tilghman, M.D., UCSD’s on-site faculty member in Mozambique, consults with a UEM internal medicine resident at a patient’s bedside. Instituting the use of wirelessly-accessed medical reference material in the hospital is one of the UCSD-UEM project goals. Photo courtesy of Robert T. Schooley, M.D.
MEPI biomedical informatics team members at October conference at UEM in Maputo. From left: Lucila Ohno-Machado, M.D., Ph.D.; Eli Aronoff-Spencer, M.D., senior postdoctoral fellow in infectious diseases at UCSD; Eng. David Bila, Network Director for the Informatics Center at UEM; Heimar de Fátima Marin, RN, PhD, Professor of Health Informatics at Universidade Federal de São Paulo; and Eng. Francisco Mabila, Director of the Informatics Center at UEM. Photo courtesy of William M. Detmer, M.D., M.Sc.
UCSD infectious diseases fellow Eli Aronoff-Spencer, MD (left), and Dr. Manuel Joaquim Tomás, UEM internal medicine resident on hospital ward in Maputo. Photo courtesy of William M. Detmer, M.D., M.Sc.
Students in a medical school class at UEM. Photo courtesy of William M. Detmer, M.D., M.Sc.
A medical school class at UEM. Photo courtesy of William M. Detmer, M.D., M.Sc.
UCSD internal medicine resident Dr. Bethany Karl on rotation at UEM’s Maputo Central Hospital. Photo courtesy of Robert T. Schooley, M.D.
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