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UTHSC College of Medicine Strengthens Collaboration with Zambian Medical University

College of Medicine leaders, including Dean Scott Strome, back row, center, had the opportunity to visit with representatives from Levy Mwanawasa Medical University in Zambia, including John Musuku, MD, senior medical superintendent, front row, center right, last week to discuss future collaborations.

Representatives from Levy Mwanawasa Medical University in Zambia spent last week at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, as part of a partnership the two institutions forged in 2020.

Beyond enjoying barbecue and basketball, the visitors met and shared ideas with university administrators, faculty, residents, and students to strengthen ties for future collaborations that will benefit both universities. They also visited the some clinical sites of UTHSC’s teaching hospital partners in Memphis.

“We want to leverage on your expertise, your experience, and then we also want to share our experience,” said John Musuku, MD, a professor and senior medical superintendent for Levy Mwanawasa University. Sharing expertise and knowledge can help his university and its hospital improve health and health care in Zambia, which he described as a lower-income country with a high disease burden.

“I know you’ve got a very good research background in this university, wonderful researchers, wonderful clinicians, wonderful educators,” Dr. Musuku said. “So, as an institution, we want to tap into that.”

UTHSC can also benefit from the exchange, he said. Faculty, residents, and students who travel to Levy Mwanawasa will learn a lot, too.

“If students came to us, they will have a developing country experience, it will be done at a lower cost, and they will be exposed to so much pathology within a short period of time,” he said. “And then, they’ll be exposed to see how medicine is practiced in low-resourced countries, and that will bring out a human element in them, and then that will help them to know that some of the privileges that they have, they should not take them for granted. That will prepare them to be stronger physicians, because they will be able to function well when the chips are down.”

Denis Foretia, MD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at UTHSC, the director of the UTHSC Center for Multicultural and Global Health, and a leader in the UTHSC Global Surgery Institute. He played a major role in the memorandum of understanding that linked the two institutions in 2020 and accompanyed the contingent from Zambia around campus.

He and other faculty and residents from UTHSC have traveled to Zambia to learn and care for patients at the hospital there.

Medical students a UTHSC and medical students at Levy Mwanawasa interact through joint journal club meetings online to discuss management of common diseases, Dr. Foretia said. He said the two institutions are investigating ways to expand joint research projects and joint grant proposals with UTHSC faculty members serving as mentors to faculty from the Zambian institution.

“We have communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, and neglected tropical diseases, HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, these are quite common as major killers of our people,” Dr. Musuku said. “So, we feel we have to align our thoughts, as we partner with UTHSC, to what the country priorities are for the next five years. This has been defined in the national strategic plan. So, even as we partner with UTHSC, we want us to look at education training, research, capacity building, aligning ourselves, to those three major categories of disease.”

“The hope is that from all these conversations, we will take it again to a next step of deepening the relationship.”

Dr. Musuku, Levy Mwanawasa Medical University

“It was fantastic having Dr. Musuku visit the UTHSC College of Medicine, engage with our faculty and students, and explore opportunities for further collaboration,” said Scott Strome, MD, executive dean of the UTHSC College of Merdicine.  “This partnership will enrich each of our cultures, facilitate joint research opportunities, and improve care for the patients we serve.”