(Vienna, 21 January 2013) The Medical University of Vienna and the University of Gondar in Ethiopia have signed a cooperation agreement. The aim of the collaboration is the mutual transfer of knowledge and a student exchange programme.
Under the terms of the agreement, a four-week ‘crash course’ in tropical medicine will be held for the first time in September at the MedUni Vienna, following which the participants in the course will travel to Gondar for 14 days of field study. The course, which will cost around EUR 3,000, is offered as post-graduate training for all interested individuals, whether they be doctors, researchers, biologists etc., and culminates in a Certificate in Tropical and Travel Medicine. “The inestimable advantage over other courses in Germany and England is the direct on-location practical module,” says Ursula Wiedermann-Schmidt, Head of the Institute of Specific Prophylaxis and Tropical Medicine at the MedUni Vienna. In return, students from Gondar will be given the opportunity to study in Vienna.
This transfer of knowledge, says Wiedermann-Schmidt, is a win-win situation for both universities: “Our colleagues are given the unique opportunity to see and treat tropical diseases on location in local clinics and directly at the patient’s bedside. In return, our partners in Gondar benefit from the MedUni Vienna’s scientific expertise.” A vaccination project is also planned in collaboration with UNICEF in Gondar.
Africa as a second focal point alongside Asia
Through its collaboration with the University of Gondar, the MedUni Vienna is also underpinning its new centre of focus: Africa. Since 2006, the Center for Geographic Medicine (CGM) at the MedUni Vienna has been working in Asia at the MARIB Research Centre under the leadership of Harald Noedl on research into malaria in Bangladesh. More than 20,000 patients have been treated there free of charge in that time. The focus on Africa is now set to be stepped up even further. An initial joint research project, together with a student exchange programme, is set to begin within the next few weeks.
“We are keen to position the MedUni Vienna as a leading centre for malaria expertise with the establishment of new sites for multi-centre studies and a worldwide malaria network,” says Noedl, who will also be in charge of the course in tropical medicine in Vienna and Ethiopia. The CGM’s focus is generally on the fields of tropical medicine and infectious diseases – and comparative studies on different continents. “One key issue is the question of how diseases present themselves under specific geographical and ethnic influences, and which therapies or prophylactic measures can be derived from this,” says Wiedermann-Schmidt.