UNMC’s wide reach

When a nursing student in the Nebraska Panhandle has a question, the University of Nebraska Medical Center can provide the answer.


With more than 75 online nursing courses available statewide, UNMC is providing an important service.  Now the reach of UNMC, in collaboration with the Nebraska Medical Center, is slowly being extended further — to the other side of the


In all, UNMC has some 40 cooperative agreements with medical institutions around the world. About 15 of the agreements are particularly active. Just a few weeks ago, UNMC officials signed four cooperative agreements with hospitals in China while accompanying Gov. Mike Johanns on a trade mission to East Asia.


Harold Maurer, UNMC’s chancellor, has encouraged such international efforts, which have become reality through the work of such staff people as Nizar Mamdani, executive director of the Office of International Healthcare Services; Dr. Ward Chambers, associate professor of cardiology; Sheila Ryan, a professor in the College of Nursing; and Donald Leuenberger, vice chancellor for business and finance.


Ryan, for example, has worked to establish links with nursing staff in several developing countries. The connections she has forged with Armenia are particularly impressive. The same types of nursing courses available throughout Nebraska are now available to students in that former Soviet republic, which remains wracked by instability.


Significant, too, has been UNMC’s efforts in Afghanistan, another country attempting to climb out of upheaval. As noted in a World-Herald story by staff writer Stephen Buttry, Chambers has visited the Afghan capital five times to cement ties between UNMC and Kabul Medical University.


It would be hard to exaggerate the severity of medical needs in Afghanistan. The country’s infant mortality rate is the highest in Asia. Ninety percent of women do not have prenatal care. One-quarter of children die before the age of 5.


In the wake of decades of war, Afghanistan’s hospitals and medical schools have enormous needs, Chambers says. Many hospitals lack running water and electricity. The country has no magnetic resonance imaging scanners, efficient computers are scarce, and medical textbooks are out of date.


UNMC has the potential to do tremendous good by establishing online medical instruction and other assistance for Afghan medical students.  These efforts display great vision. UNMC is demonstrating an impressive generosity as it extends a helping hand to those who need it, not just here in the Midlands, but even on the other side of the world.

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