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Campus Currents May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

UCSD Medicine in Mozambique

The UCSD School of Medicine has partnered with Mozambique's flagship medical school, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM), which is expected to receive $12.5 million over the next five years under the U.S. Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI). The money will help fund the exchange training program between the two universities.

"The resources provided by this grant will allow Mozambique to focus on doing what they want to do most—train the next generation of physicians for a rapidly developing nation that is critically short of physicians," says Emilia Virginia Noormahomed, who serves on the faculty of both universities.

Mozambique was under Portuguese control until 1975, and during the period of colonial rule almost no native Mozambicans were admitted to medical school. At the time of independence, all but 50 physicians had left the country. During an ensuing 20 years of civil war and unrest, few resources were devoted to higher education, and faculty shortages at UEM, the country's only medical school, meant that fewer than 25 physicians graduated each year. While conditions have steadily improved, today only 500 of the country's 800 physicians actively practice medicine, and the country has one of the world's lowest life-expectancy rates.

"Malaria accounts for 26 percent of deaths in hospital," says Robert T. Schooley, M.D., professor of Medicine and chief of UCSD's Division of Infectious Diseases, who helped spearhead the grant. "And TB or HIV account for nearly 60 percent of admissions at Maputo Central Hospital."

The award intends to strengthen UEM's medical school faculty by recruiting and mentoring young trainee physicians; to enhance research capacity by modernizing the medical school's technology; and put in place a bioinformatics infrastructure that will allow faculty members to communicate more easily and to access journals and books online. In addition, a linked grant will focus on working to improve surgical care in rural areas of Mozambique and building surgical research capacity within UEM.

"The overarching goal of our collaboration," says Schooley, "is to help train the medical and scientific leadership required for Mozambique to lead its medical schools and its Ministry of Health for the next 30 years."

óDebra Kain