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Doctors at University of Colorado School of Medicine to train African doctors in AIDS care

A dozen countries to benefit from $130 million investment to strengthen training for health care providers

10/6/2010
 

(AURORA, Colo.) - The HIV epidemic continues to grow, especially in Africa where it has orphaned millions of children and decimated entire communities. In this environment, funding to train African health care providers is critical.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to invest $130 million over five years to transform African medical education and dramatically increase the number of practicing health care workers. The University of Colorado School of Medicine will receive $1.9 million in federal grant funding to support this work. Faculty from the University of Colorado will travel to Zimbabwe to train medical students about HIV under funding from this NIH grant. 

The Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) will award grants directly to African institutions in a dozen countries; the African institutions will work in partnership with U.S. medical schools and universities. The initiative will form a network of approximately 30 regional partners, country health and education ministries, and more than 20 U.S. collaborators.  University of Colorado School of Medicine will collaborate with the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences in one of the programmatic awards announced today.  The Colorado-Zimbabwe collaboration, called the Novel Education Clinical Trainees and Researchers (NECTAR), will improve medical student HIV education in Zimbabwe.  Dr. Thomas Campbell, MD, Professor of Medicine, is the Principal Investigator for the University of Colorado.  Drs. Eva Aagaard, Director of the Academy of Medical Educators, Lucy Bradley-Springer, Director of the Mountain Plains AIDS Education and Training Center, Suzanne Brandenburg, Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program, and Nancy Madinger, Director of the Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program at the University of Colorado School of Medicine will work with Dr. Campbell to administer and implement the program.  Bonnie Walters, Executive Director of the Evaluation Center in the School of Education and Human Development, and her colleagues will monitor the impact of NECTAR on medical education in Zimbabwe. 

“The University of Colorado is widely recognized for the outstanding teachers and clinicians among our faculty,” said Campbell.  “It is very exciting that we will now have this opportunity to share our teaching skills with our Zimbabwean colleagues to help them improve medical education in Zimbabwe.”  As NECTAR is implemented, interested UC faculty from diverse areas of medicine will have opportunities to participate in activities at the University of Zimbabwe including lecturing, bedside teaching and clinical and research mentorship.

“We must dramatically transform African medical education to increase the number of qualified care providers available and develop the scientific expertise needed for research and innovation,” said Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator at the State Department.  “By engaging country health and education ministries, MEPI will strengthen national plans to improve medical instruction and bolster the overall health care delivery systems.  As we transition PEPFAR-supported HIV efforts from an emergency response to a more sustainable effort, we need to develop the expertise necessary for evidence-based decision making on the local level.  This expertise will empower countries to lead health programs and fulfill their responsibility for the health of their people.”

Eleven programmatic awards, largely funded by PEPFAR, will expand and enhance medical education and research training in the field of HIV. Eight smaller, non-HIV awards, funded by the NIH Director’s Common Fund, with additional support from several NIH institutes, will help develop expertise in topics such as maternal and child health, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, mental health, surgery and emergency medicine.  Through NECTAR, UC Faculty will support PEPFAR goals to train and retain 140,000 new health care workers and improve the capacity of partner countries to deliver primary health care.

“HRSA’s decades of experience working in HIV/AIDS through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program have highlighted the critical need for enhanced medical education and training to provide quality care to people affected by HIV/AIDS in rural and underserved communities. We are proud to collaborate with PEPFAR and NIH to advance medical education in Africa through this initiative, as well as continue supporting the on-going care and treatment and health system strengthening activities,” said Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., HRSA administrator.

The Common Fund, Office of AIDS Research, Office of Research on Women’s Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and National Institute of Nursing Research are providing NIH funding. 

PEPFAR is the U.S. Government initiative to help global partners respond to HIV. It was launched in 2003, and is the largest international commitment ever provided by any nation to combat a single disease. PEPFAR is the cornerstone of the President’s Global Health Initiative, which supports partner countries to improve health outcomes through strengthened health systems.  For more information, please visit: United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief, http://twitter.com/uspepfar, or www.facebook.com/PEPFAR.

The NIH Common Fund encourages collaboration and supports a series of exceptionally high impact, trans-NIH programs. These new programs are funded through the Common Fund and managed by the NIH Office of the Director in partnership with the various NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices. Common Fund programs are designed to pursue major opportunities and gaps in biomedical research that no single NIH Institute could tackle alone, but that the agency as a whole can address to make the biggest impact possible on the progress of medical research. Additional information about the NIH Common Fund can be found at NIH Common Fund.

Faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine work to advance science and improve care. Faculty members include physicians, educators and scientists at University of Colorado Hospital, The Children’s Hospital, Denver Health, National Jewish Health, and the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Degrees offered by the UC Denver School of Medicine include doctor of medicine, doctor of physical therapy, and masters of physician assistant studies.  The School is located on the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus, one of four campuses in the University of Colorado system. For additional news and information, please visit the UC Denver newsroom online.

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Contact:  Jackie Brinkman, 303.724.1525, Jackie.brinkman@ucdenver.edu